A study by a major standardized test provider of the impact of school shutdowns shows children are performing worse at every grade level in math and reading compared to the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Data from 7.3 million tests compiled by test provider Renaissance Learning Inc. showed student performance during the second year of the pandemic was worse than the first, with each state seeing marked declines in 2021, reported the Wall Street Journal.
The study showed that while reading and math scores have not returned to pre-pandemic levels, they have improved slightly in the latter half of the current school year with the widespread return to in-person learning.
The testing firm found that, on average, reading scores recorded during the 2021–2022 school year were nine points lower in the fall compared to the previous school year.
In math, scores were eight points lower in the fall.
Overall, 44 states saw a decrease in students hitting a state-set target for reading proficiency. The six states that saw no decrease, or only a slight decrease, were Iowa, Kentucky, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey and Pennsylvania.
For math, only 10 states slightly rose above the target: Alabama, Arkansas, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Montana, Nebraska, North Carolina, Vermont, and North and South Dakota.
Poor reading marks were seen especially in students in lower grades, indicating that students who haven’t learned to read independent of school are still struggling.
Rena Gibbs, the coordinator of curriculum and instruction at the 3,500-student Cypress School District in Southern California, told the Wall Street Journal that younger students returning to in-person learning largely are unprepared.
“They’re just not coming with those sounds and letters and scholarly habits we’re used to,” she said of first-grade and kindergarten students.
She warned that if children don’t have “those early literacy skills by the end of third grade, it does not bode well for their future.”
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