At the end of the 2020 school year, students in grades three to eight were typically behind 8–12 points in math and 3–6 points in reading, according to Northwest Evaluation Association data released in 2021.
Test scores remain a strong indicator of learning loss, even when considering how the temporary closing of schools affected testing veracity. In order to break down precisely how these declining trends in math and reading have affected various demographics among all students, HeyTutor looked at the drop in test scores in reading and math for fourth and and eighth grade students before and after COVID-19. This article cites long-term trend data from the National Assessment of Educational Progress along with information from other news reports and studies.
Prior to the pandemic, long-term trends showed that math and reading scores for students ages 9 and 13 had fallen or remained the same since 2012, according to the NAEP. Since 1971, the organization, which operates under the auspices of the U.S. Commissioners of Education, has tracked how students ages 9, 13, and 17 are performing in math and reading.
NAEP notes that while average test scores in math and reading in 2012 surpassed those of the 1970s for students ages 9 and 13, average scores among 13-year-old students decreased between 2012 and 2020. Specifically, average math scores for 13-year-old students in the 10th, 25th, and 50th percentiles decreased between 2012 and 2020.
Average math scores for 9-year-old students in the 10th and 25th percentiles also fell during the same time period. Additionally, average reading scores for 13-year-old students were higher in 2012 than they were in 2020, however, variations in average reading scores for 9-year-old students between 2012 and 2020 were negligible.
Continue reading for a closer look at how the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted education in America.