Pandemic Learning Loss Heavier in Math Than Reading This Fall, But Questions Remain
December 7, 2020
Early test results this fall confirm that the pandemic has taken a toll on students' academic growth, particularly in math. But a new study from the Northwest Evaluation Association suggests we still lack a clear picture of the most vulnerable students.
In a new study released today, NWEA researchers found more than 4.4 million students in grades 3-8 who participated in NWEA's MAP Growth test this fall performed about on par in reading, but 5 to 10 percentile points lower in math, compared to their peers in fall 2019. That means a student who performed at the average in 2019, or the 50th percentile, could have performed a year later at the level of someone ranked only at the 40th percentile in 2019.
Students in upper elementary school and those transitioning into middle school struggled the most. When researchers broke the students into five levels based on prior achievement, more than a third of students in grades 4-6 fell by at least one quintile in math. Upper elementary students also lost ground in reading, but to a much lesser degree.