University Of Tasmania

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Uneven impacts of COVID-19 on the attendance rates of secondary school students from different socioeconomic backgrounds in Australia: a quasi-experimental analysis of administrative data

journal contribution
posted on 2023-05-21, 12:41 authored by Tomaszewski, W, Zajac, T, Emily RudlingEmily Rudling, Kitty te RieleKitty te Riele, McDaid, L, Western, M
This paper contributes to the growing body of research that demonstrates uneven impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on educational outcomes of students from different socioeconomic status (SES) backgrounds. We evaluate the early impacts of COVID-19 on student attendance in secondary school and show how these impacts depend on students' SES. We employ a quasi-experimental design, using difference-in-differences (DiD) estimation extended to incorporate third-order differences over time between low-SES and other students, and pre- versus during-COVID-19, leveraging robust administrative data extracted from the registers of the Tasmanian Department of Education. Using data from multiple cohorts of secondary school students in government schools in Tasmania (N=14,135), we find that while the attendance rates were similar pre- and during-COVID-19 for high-SES students, there was a significant drop in attendance rates during COVID-19 among socioeconomically disadvantaged students, demonstrating the more pronounced impacts of COVID-19 for these students. The findings demonstrate that even "relatively short" lockdowns, as those in Tasmania in 2020 (30-40 days of home learning), can significantly affect the learning experiences of students from socioeconomically disadvantaged backgrounds. We discuss the implications of this for future pandemic planning in educational policy and practice and how this needs to be addressed in Australia's COVID-19 recovery.


Publication title

Australian Journal of Social Issues








Peter Underwood Centre


John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Place of publication


Rights statement

© 2022 The Authors. Australian Journal of Social Issues published by John Wiley & Sons Australia, Ltd on behalf of Australian Social Policy Association.

Repository Status

  • Restricted

Socio-economic Objectives

Secondary education; Equity and access to education