News Update

Students regained lost ground last year, but disparities widened

New research shows that students have regained the ground they lost over the pandemic over the last year, but achievement gaps have widened, and the progress students made was lower than it would have been in a typical year.

The Northwest Evaluation Association compared data from 8.3 million students nationwide on MAP Growth assessments in reading and math between the 2018-19 and 2021-22 school years, and the 2015-16 and 2018-19.

Some of the findings were encouraging. NWEA found strong evidence of rebounding, particularly in math and among younger students. There was a sign of recovery among all poverty levels.

Those findings were tempered by research showing that student achievement at the end of the 2021-22 school year was still below a typical year. Students had declined 5 to 10 percentile points in math and 2-4 points in reading. Low-poverty schools will have less ground to make up and will likely recover faster.

Those hardest hit by the impacts of the pandemic have made gains, but the achievement disparities affecting Latino, Black and American Indian or Native Alaskan students have only widened since the pandemic began.

The report finds that repeated surges of COVID stressed school systems — creating staff shortages, high rates of absenteeism and school closures — thwarting hopes of a stronger year of recovery.