The Impacts of Remote Learning in Secondary Education: Evidence from Brazil during the Pandemic

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Jun 2021
The goal of this paper is to document the pedagogic impacts of the remote learning strategy used by an state department of education in Brazil during the pandemic. We found that dropout risk increased by 365% under remote learning. While risk increased with local disease activity, most of it can be attributed directly to the absence of in-person classes: we estimate that dropout risk increased by no less than 247% across the State, even at the low end of the distribution of per capita Covid-19 cases. Average standardized test scores decreased by 0.32 standard deviation, as if students had only learned 27.5% of the in-person equivalent under remote learning. Learning losses did not systematically increase with local disease activity, attesting that they are in fact the outcome of remote learning, rather than a consequence of other health or economic impacts of Covid-19. Authorizing schools to partially reopen for in-person classes increased high-school students test scores by 20% relative to the control group.