(ThePatriotWire)- People around the county have been concerned that children in the U.S. suffered massive learning setbacks because of the disruptions caused by pandemic-related shutdowns and virtual learning.
Now, those concerns have been verified, as a new study conducted by the federal government revealed that the scores for 9-year-olds in reading and math dropped off dramatically over the first two years of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The study was conducted by the National Center for Education Statistics, which is a branch of the U.S. Department of Education. It showed that scores in reading saw the largest drop in the last 30 years. At the same time, scores in reading went down for the first time that the study has used its testing regimen.
All areas of the country experienced these declines, which also affected students of just about every race. That being said, students of color experienced the biggest decreases in scores, according to the report.
The findings, which were released last week, give an early glimpse at the overall impact that the learning disruptions from the pandemic caused. That’s because standardized testing didn’t occur at the outset of the pandemic in many parts of the country.
The Nation’s Report Card, which is compiled every year by the National Assessment of Educational Progress, is set to be released later in the year. That will include a broader set of data that could show more revealing information.
In releasing the findings of the study, the NCES’ acting associate commissioner, Daniel McGrath, said:
“These are some of the largest declines we have observed in a single assessment cycle in 50 years of the NAEP program. Students in 2022 are performing at a level last seen two decades ago.”
At the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic in the early spring of 2020, many school districts around the nation shut down for in-person learning, opting for virtual learning for much of the rest of the school year. Even when students returned in the fall of 2020, many districts remained shuttered for in-person instruction.
For more than a year after that, schools alternated between in-person and virtual learning both as a way to protect against the spread of COVID-19, and also in response to outbreaks of the virus in the school community.
All of that — plus the fact that many students were forced to wear masks while in school until this new 2022-23 school year — really stunted the academic growth and achievement of many students.
According to the study, the average math score for 9-year-old students dropped 7% from 2020 to 2022. In that same time period, the average reading scores for the same age group decreased 5%.
There were some discrepancies between the math scores for different races, too. They decreased 5% for white students, 13% for Black students and 8% for Hispanic students.
Reading scores dropped equally across the board, at 6% for Hispanic, Black and white students.
The study also found that students of two or more races, Native American students and Asian American students experienced relatively little change in either their math or reading scores in that timeframe.