School lockdown survey reveals several challenges of remote schooling

Ljubljana – An international study of how the educational system fared during the Covid pandemic shows worrying results for Slovenia in the segments of achievement of learning objectives, knowledge standards and marks. The study, carried out by the Education Institute, also shows that many teachers and pupils reported about a lot of stress.

The Institute studied the period during the first school lockdown in February-April 2020, its impact on the return to school and its long-lasting impact.

“136 primary schools, 135 head teachers, 1,422 eight-grade teachers and 2,552 pupils in year eight took part in the Responses to Educational Disruption Survey (REDS),” the survey’s Slovenian coordinator Eva M. Klemenčič told the STA on Thursday.

The results show that only 28% of the teachers believe the marks pupils received during the lockdown reflected their knowledge, while 58% of the kids feel they were given better marks than they would have received if schools had been open. 47% of the teachers tended to give higher marks to avoid conflicts with pupils or parents.

Inequalities related to the socio-economic situation of families from which children come are also worrying. Klemenčič said that many more children from this background are worried about future education and lagging behind.

A large share of teachers but also kids reported about “high psycho-social pressure on children”, with some of the pressure persisting when the kids returned to school. Nevertheless, many children were thrilled to go back to school in-person, Klemenčič said.

The results also inspire some optimism, which can be seen from looking at the lasting impact of the school closure.

Klemenčič said that a vast majority of pupils said they were successful in scheduling school commitments throughout the day, and in particular the use of online learning environments and videoconferencing systems.

She said that pupils, and even more so headteachers, had a positive view of whether the kids were prepared for distance learning should schools be closed again.

The survey did not delve into exactly how much the eight-graders learnt during the first lockdown.

But according to Damijan Štefanc from the Ljubljana Faculty of Arts, Slovenia opted for “a strategy of alleviating the situation for children”.

While this is understandable, he said that the survey indicated that the kids had now less knowledge than their peers had before Covid-19.

“This is why a compensation strategy should be considered to ensure that these kids, who have been practically deprived of three school years, acquire, over a certain period of time, the level of knowledge that would be at least comparable to their peers before Covid,” said the professor of didactics and curriculum theory.