Measuring COVID's impact on educational outcomes


An excellent blog post from the Centre for Evaluation and Monitoring (CEM at Cambridge Assessment) this week talks about the how we are going to measure the long-term impact on education that the pandemic has left on young people, and the valuable insight we will gain from longitudinal studies in the future. In some ways it feels education research is almost gleefully itching to develop projects to delve into this subject, and no doubt the next 10 years will produce extensive analysis of the enforced changes to a whole generation's education experience.


The article talks about the use of different research methodologies to look into the subject and that long term, longitudinal studies will likely provide the most valuable insights - though these are often hard to design maintain over the course of the studies. Such projects take commitment and patience; a whole lot of patience for those with vested interests in the results. These eagerly anticipated studies will undoubtedly tell us a lot about the effects on current cohorts, but how useful will this be for families in the short term, and those trying to navigate their way through the next few years?

Many times we have heard the phrase: "Oh yes, this group has been worst hit by the pandemic", when talking about almost every group from early years to GCSE students, post-16 learners and university students.

I have many conversations with colleagues in education and friends and family over the past few months. Many times I have heard the phrase: "Oh yes, this group has been worst hit by the pandemic", when talking about almost every group from early years to GCSE students, post-16 learners and university students. We can see the impact on every young person navigating their way through their educational pathway, and this disruption has left a lot of anxiety - not just with the students themselves but also their families.


We place a huge amount of faith on a prescribed pathway for education. Schools and universities have always been slow to adopt change; and students often pick a route based on how well-trodden and established it appears to be. As a result, one of the most unsettling aspects of these times is the uncertainty. Uncertainty about the impact on learning, uncertainty about specific routes no longer being an option, discomfort in best-laid plans requiring revision.


The outcomes of long term studies will do nothing to alleviate this uncertainty in the short term, however there are ways for families to be proactive in their quest for answers now. Using standardised assessments with deep analysis of academic skills will provide immediate insight into current gaps in a student's knowledge. Evaluative tests, like the APT, provide comparison with expected age levels in the underlying learning skills which can help families understand what areas may need additional attention. To navigate the short term concerns left behind by the pandemic, families can use such tests to better understand the individual impact and discuss with an expert what can be done about it.

“We found the APT a really helpful tool as we tried to get our heads around our 10-year-old son’s academic ability, his potential and how that might all fit into making the right school choices. Not only was the testing process straightforward, but the Zoom feedback session with the expert from APT really helped us contextualise the results and has given us confidence to make better decisions.”

- Ms R, London


To find out more about APT and our mission to provide families with analysis of their children's academic profile, head to our website to learn more.