The Economic Impacts of COVID-19: Evidence from a New Public Database Built from Private Sector Data

Research Rundown Issue: September '20
Publisher: Opportunity Insights
Date Published: September '20


This new study explores the impact of COVID-19 on the economy, looking at a variety of measures, including education. It looks specifically at data from Zearn Math—a tool that offers digital lessons to supplement in-person instruction—used by 800,000 students across the country. While high-income students generally have lower participation rates than middle-and low-income students, this trend flipped during spring school closures due to COVID-19. Participation rates for high-income students increased by 5%, but decreased by 30% for middle-income students and by 52% for low-income students. Moreover, progress through lessons for high-income students increased by 45%, stayed nearly the same for middle-income students, and decreased by 36% for low-income students. These findings affirm concerns that achievement gaps between low-and-middle-income and high-income students are being exacerbated by the pandemic and school closures.

Why This Matters in Minnesota

These new data align with other projections, which estimate that students will have lost between one-third to half of what they would have learned in a normal school year. It’s imperative that schools use diagnostic assessments to measure where students are and then use research-backed interventions to meet students where they are and accelerate their learning. Additionally, as schools move between the different learning models—hybrid, in-person, and distance—districts and charter schools must also ensure comparable rigor across different schooling models and should strongly consider prioritizing younger learners, students with special needs, English Learners, and those who face barriers to distance learning at home for in-person services.

Explore the findings