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COVID-19 pandemic widens student learning gaps

New York Teacher

The COVID-19 pandemic slowed progress for students in grades 3–8 in math and reading during the 2020–21 school year, according to national data released on July 28 by the testing group NWEA.

The declines were especially pronounced among Black, Latino and Native American students and in low-income schools, deepening longstanding inequalities. “Many of the students who were lower already showed the biggest drops,” said NWEA researcher Megan Kuhfeld, who coauthored the study. “That’s very alarming to me.”

The report compared students’ progress during the 2020–21 school year to a cohort of similar students from before the pandemic. By the end of the school year, the average student was behind by 3 to 6 percentage points in reading and 8 to 12 percentage points in math. Younger students saw some of the biggest declines.

Researchers are unable to identify whether remote learning, disrupted school schedules, social isolation, trauma or any of the other challenges of the pandemic was the specific culprit, or whether it was a combination of these factors.

Chalkbeat, July 28

Related Topics: Coronavirus