National data shows U.S. students still ‘stalled’ after pandemic


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Washington D.C., Jul 12, 2023 / 08:21 am (CNA).

A new national survey shows students in the United States are still struggling to make up learning loss experienced over the course of the COVID-19 crisis.

The report this week from NWEA examined test scores from nearly 7 million elementary and middle school students in about 20,000 public schools around the U.S.

The researchers found that “achievement gains in 2022–23 lagged pre-pandemic trends” in nearly all surveyed students, with numbers “falling short of pre-pandemic averages by 1–19% in reading and by 6–15% in math.”

The NWEA noted that the decline was sharper than what was observed in 2021-2022. Reading in upper-level grades suffered the most, the researchers said. Overall, the average student at the end of the school year required over four months of additional schooling in both math and reading to come up to grade level, the report said.

The poor numbers come as data indicate that many Catholic students enjoyed markedly less learning loss over the course of the COVID crisis than their public-schooled peers.

A survey late last year from the National Assessment of Educational Progress showed fourth- and eighth-grade public school students experiencing a more pronounced drop in test scores compared with their Catholic school counterparts.

Lincoln Snyder, the president and CEO of the National Catholic Education Association, told CNA last fall that the willingness of Catholic schools to quickly reopen for in-person education helped drive those encouraging numbers.

Catholic schools “were the first to transition to distance learning, and then after that brief time were the first to come back to in-person instruction everywhere they could, as soon as they could,” Snyder said at the time.

“Our students benefited from our communities doing everything they could offer,” he said.

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