Gone with the pandemic: effects of COVID-19 on academic performance in Colombia

Produced by: 
Pontificia Universidad Javeriana
Available from: 
July 2021
Paper author(s): 
Luz Karime Abadía Alvarado
Silvia C. Gómez Soler
Juanita Cifuentes González
Topic: 
Education - Health
Year: 
2021

The Covid-19 pandemic is an unprecedented exogenous shock that has tested the responsiveness of education systems around the world. The international literature that has quantified the effect of school closings due to Covid-19 on school performance is still limited. This literature suggests that the closure of schools reduced the academic performance of the 2020 cohort compared to the previous ones. To date there is only one study by Lichand et al. 2021 that quantifies this effect for a Latin American country even though the countries of this region have been the most affected by the pandemic. This research seeks to fill this gap in the literature by studying the Colombian case using the information available in the databases of the Saber11 examination for the years 2017 to 2020. Using a pool of cross-sections and a school and time fixed effects model, we estimate the effect of the pandemic on the performance of graduating high school students, finding a negative effect that is in line with the existing literature. The significant reduction in the number of students taking the Saber11 exam in 2020, could raise suspicions about a possible selection bias in these results. We also used inverse probability weighting regressions and trimming by specific quantiles of the test score distribution to control for this possible source of bias. The results show that the effect of the Covid-19 pandemic on Saber11 exam overall scores remains negative and statistically significant.

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