Tackling the COVID-19 Learning Loss in Italy

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Following the unprecedented disruption to the academic year in 2020, Ministries of Education across Europe have been facing the same significant challenge: how to understand and address the learning loss caused by COVID-19. At the same time they have now been required to accelerate their digital transformation – a transformation that unlike any other before, has brought significant and long lasting changes to culture and policy, workforce and professional development, and education technology roadmaps.

Check out a sample from our case study with Italy below to learn more about their challenges, solutions, and next steps, and download the full piece to keep reading!

As the first western European country to face a nationwide lockdown at the onset of the pandemic, Italy encountered unique challenges and uncertainties in how to address and reduce the resulting learning loss. By working with TAO, INVALSI, of the Italian Ministry of Education, has been able to develop a plan of action that can serve as a model for other European Ministries grappling with the aftermath of school closures and testing cancellations.


INVALSI (The National Institute for the Evaluation of the Education and Training System), of the Italian Ministry of Education, is responsible for school evaluation, nationwide testing, and implementing international surveys, like PISA (Program for International Student Assessment). Each year, INVALSI administers nationwide standardized tests for the more than 7,000,000 Italian students in grades 8-13.

Download the case study to read more about INVALSI’s background


INVALSI was anticipating another smooth deployment for their national testing campaign in the spring of 2020. However, just as they were getting ready to launch, the world was hit with an unprecedented crisis that completely upended the education system when COVID-19 forced the majority of countries into lockdown. As the first Western European country to face a nationwide lockdown due to COVID, the Italian government ultimately made the decision to close schools and cancel the planned national testing campaign.

The challenges Italy faced were unique — because they were the first western European country to enforce a lockdown, fear compounded the many uncertainties in how to best move forward in the wake of school closings. Uncertainties also extended to the timeline of the shutdown, as information constantly changed day to day, further complicating how to manage the situation. After about two weeks, it became clear that it would not be possible to reopen schools and that the Italian Ministry of Education would have to come up with a mitigation plan to address the learning disruption.

Ultimately, the school closings lasted from March through the rest of the school year in June. Only final exams for grade 13 were held in presence, but according to a simplified formula. This marked the first cancellation of national exams since World War II. After the initial confusion, schools in Italy began to organize solutions to reach their students using technology.

The sudden acceleration to digital learning brought new organizational demands and challenges to teaching, including concerns around devices per student, socio-economic factors, teacher adoption and more to the forefront. The Italian government in turn looked to INVALSI to provide an idea on how to measure and mitigate the learning loss that occurred in the wake of the first wave of COVID-19.

Download the full case study to continue reading about INVALSI’s approach to measuring learning loss supporting student success, including the rearrangement of their testing procedures!

“We are aware that it will take years to reduce the impact of this learning loss, but we believe that technology like TAO can be very helpful to reach students in a more tailored way. And as it is so important for us to try to experiment, working with OAT allows us to quickly and effectively test out new approaches to our testing procedures.” – Dr. Roberto Ricci Director of Research and National Examinations, INVALSI

download the case study, "The Italian Ministry of Education Addresses the Learning Loss Caused by COVID-19"