Study examines pandemic effects on student achievement, enrollment

Girl with covid mask sits on a public school bus

An analysis of the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on Kalamazoo Public Schools found declines in student test scores during remote schooling that rebounded when schools reopened, but not to levels reached before the pandemic. Enrollment dropped for two years after the start of pandemic closures, the first consecutive yearly declines since the free-tuition Kalamazoo Promise took effect in 2006.

Randall Eberts, an Upjohn Institute senior researcher, describes his findings in a new paper and policy brief.

Michigan’s schools shut down in March 2020 and Kalamazoo schools remained closed for the rest of the school year, as the district transitioned to online learning. Instruction for the entire 2020-2021 school year took place online.

The research finds that test scores didn’t increase over the course of the 2020-2021 school year by as much as they had during the pre-pandemic year. Gains rebounded after schools reopened for the 2021-2022 school year, although more strongly for elementary- than middle-school students. 

Enrollment and achievement also varied by race and ethnicity, as Eberts details in the paper. While total enrollment and enrollment for White and Hispanic students declined, enrollment increased slightly for Black or African American students.

Date: September 21, 2023