What can we understand about learning losses in 2020 from university application and enrolment data?

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dc.contributor.author Branson, Nicola
dc.contributor.author Ranchhod, Vimal
dc.contributor.author Whitelaw, Emma
dc.date.accessioned 2023-08-30T12:28:36Z
dc.date.available 2023-08-30T12:28:36Z
dc.date.issued 2023-08
dc.identifier.citation Branson, N., Ranchhod, V., Whitelaw, E. (2023). What can we understand about learning losses in 2020 from university application and enrolment data? Cape Town: Southern Africa Labour and Development Research Unit, University of Cape Town. (SALDRU Working Paper Number 301)
dc.identifier.uri http://hdl.handle.net/11090/1033
dc.description.abstract This paper investigates potential grade 12 learning losses in 2020 using applications and enrolment data from the University of Cape Town (UCT). Using difference-in-difference strategies, we find suggestive evidence of learning loss in the state National Senior Certificate (NSC) in 2020 among both applicants and enrolees. For enrolees, we observe lower first-year academic performance, as measured by Grade Point Average, among those who enrolled in 2021 and wrote the 2020 NSC, compared to students who enrolled in 2021 but wrote the NSC in before 2020. In the applications data, we observe a negative change in the relationship between a student’s grade 11 and grade 12 marks compared to pre-pandemic trends. Specifically, given grade 11 marks, we observe lower average NSC scores for students who wrote the NSC in 2020, compared to similar students in previous years. The effect appears to be driven by students at the lower end of the grade 11 academic performance distribution in the UCT data. Despite expectations that the impact of school closures in 2020 may have differed by school quintile, the UCT applications data indicate similar effects across school quintiles. This could potentially reflect the prioritisation of grade 12s during school closures, or the select sample of students who apply to UCT from under-resourced schools. The improved maths performance that we observe for writers of the 2020 NSC in the applications data was not expected, but this could reflect adjustments to individual NSC subjects. Overall, this study sheds light on the complexities of quantifying learning losses, particularly at the nexus of secondary and tertiary education, and prompts a need for ongoing investigation on the longer-term ramifications of learning losses (e.g. on performance at tertiary level over time and changes in the composition of who enrols). en_US
dc.description.sponsorship This research was made possible by a grant from the Spencer Foundation (grant number 202100035). The views expressed are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Spencer Foundation. en_US
dc.language.iso en en_US
dc.relation.ispartofseries Saldru Working Paper;301
dc.title What can we understand about learning losses in 2020 from university application and enrolment data? en_US
dc.type Working Paper en_US

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