Impact of COVID-19 School Closures on the Cognitive and Non-cognitive Skills of Elementary School Students

Author Name ASAKAWA Shinsuke (Saga University) / OHTAKE Fumio (Faculty Fellow, RIETI)
Creation Date/NO. August 2022 22-E-075
Research Project Implementing Evidence-Based Policy Making in Japan
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This study examines the dynamic effects of school closures caused by COVID-19 on the cognitive and non-cognitive skills of fourth and fifth-grade students in Nara City, Japan. We use triannual math tests and concurrent surveys about students’ motivation to learn math. Using Event Study and Difference-in-Differences methods, we compare cohorts with and without the experience of school closure and find that it reduced cognitive skills (math scores) in the short term. But on average, the scores significantly recovered within six months of schools fully reopening. However, some students with disadvantaged living conditions during and after the closure, and some students in fourth grade, did not fully recover. We also find that non-cognitive skills (student attitudes toward proactive learning in math) were higher than in cohorts which did not experience school closure. Furthermore, the lower the students' achievements in math, the greater the impact of living conditions on students’ mathematical cognitive and non-cognitive skills.