Elementary and middle school students have only made up some of the losses in math and reading they experienced during the COVID-19 pandemic, a new report finds.
For the report, published Wednesday, a collaborative team at the Center for Education Policy Research at Harvard University and The Educational Opportunity Project at Stanford University, looked at the first year of regular testing between spring 2022 and spring 2023 for school districts in 30 states.
Overall, students managed to recover about one-third of the original loss in math and one-quarter of the loss in reading. While these gains are historic, students are still not where they should be, the researchers found.
“Both of those gains were large by historical standards, but the gains in average achievement are masking the dramatic widening in achievement that happened between 2019 and 2022, and just the failure of many of the high poverty districts to catch up,” Dr. Thomas Kane, co-author of the report and faculty director of the Center for Education Policy Research, told ABC News.
When broken down by subject, only students in Alabama returned to pre-pandemic achievement levels in math, meaning levels seen in 2019, the report found. However, students in 17 states are still one-third behind 2019 levels in math.
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The report’s authors say that districts would need at least another year of recovery in math and two more years in reading for students to catch up to pre-pandemic level achievements.
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The report also found that in many states, the recovery of math and reading losses has been led by wealthier districts, including those in Massachusetts and Connecticut.
Kane said in Massachusetts, high-poverty districts didn’t just fail to catch up but lost further ground between spring 2022 and spring 2023 so the improvement came from the higher-income suburbs, which he called “disappointing” and “concerning.”
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“During the pandemic, many high-income families relied on private tutors to maintain their students’ achievement while lower-income families didn’t have the resources to do the same,” he told ABC News. “A lot of school-based interventions meant to close the gap were too little, too late. What we really need are strong early childhood interventions.”
Link to the rest at ABC