A Global Perspective on US Learning Losses

Eric A. Hanushek
Bradley Strauss
Published Date
Hoover Education Success Initiative

Recent international and national assessments point to the substantial learning losses that
resulted from school disruptions during the pandemic. The United States, which entered the
pandemic with achievement near the OECD average, had average pandemic learning losses
and emerged from it at roughly the same international ranking as before. At the same time,
there was substantial heterogeneity in achievement losses across states and across individuals,
leading to disproportionate economic impacts on some individuals and states. The learning
losses from the pandemic foretell substantial economic costs related to the lower skills of
those in the COVID-19 cohort. Unlike the other economic costs of the pandemic, those from
learning losses are future costs that are yet to accrue and that can be ameliorated by public
action—but the time for feasibly addressing them is quickly running out.