By Sheila Mckenzie-
The British government has given out a contract worth up to £143,000 to Renaissance learning in order to measure the full extent of lockdown learning losses in schools.
The firm, which inspires academic leadership and progress in many Uk schools, is contracted to analyse data from schools already signed up to use its Star Reading and Star Mathematics assessments this year, and then run a comparison of that to previous results to produce a catch-up baseline.
The research will be based on a large sample of pupils from years 1 to 11, and could take up to a year to complete and publish.
A previous study by Renaissance found the attainment gap had widened by up to 52 per cent among primary pupils. The study sampled 2,000 year 3 and 3,900 year 5 pupils taking the computer-adaptive tests that schools use to help plan teaching and monitor progress.
The survey is also expected to attempt to find key patterns such as how schools have identified the scale of lost learning, which interventions work best and how the £650 million catch-up fund cash is spent.
Under the contract, Renaissance will provide the department with weekly progress updates and interim reports. The DfE said it will “use all reasonable endeavours” to agree a final report with Renaissance no later than October 15, next year, before it can be published online.
The firm has also said it has remote assessment guidelines in place should pupils be sent home where schools are put in any sort of lockdown.
If such closures “compromise” the research, though, the parties will discuss whether to continue with slightly altered research questions, pause or terminate the study. But this is deemed a “low” risk.
Another risk highlighted is a reduction in sample size, for instance with schools not completing the baseline assessment due to phased reopening.
In this case, Renaissance said it would instead analyse a random sample of the 2020-21 group, then match these with “similar” pupils in previous years.
Fears over pupils not carrying out the assessment under exam conditions are also said to be “low risk”.