Newswise — University of Notre Dame Assistant Professor of Economics Chloe Gibbs largely focuses on how policy — including education policy — affects disadvantaged children and families and how to address achievement gaps by race, ethnicity and family income. Much of her work, including recent research on the impact of full-day kindergarten and the effects of the federally-funded Head Start preschool program, explores how time spent in school affects children’s cognitive and non-cognitive outcomes. This research finds that more instructional time in the early years has important benefits for children over the short- and long-term, particularly children learning English and those from disadvantaged backgrounds. With many of the nation's schools choosing to continue online instruction due to COVID, Gibbs fears the consequences for children with limited or no access to learning resources outside of school.

Evidence from previous pandemics indicates that the disruption to school-age children’s educational trajectories has long-lasting effects,” she said. “When kids are out of school, the differences in resources and environments they experience translate into gaps in skill development, so I worry that school closures could contribute to widening achievement gaps by family income or socioeconomic status. Efforts to implement remote learning may contribute to these gaps as children have differential access in their homes to the technology required.”