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National test scores in math and reading plummet following lockdowns

The lockdown of schools during the pandemic has taken a heavy toll on the nation’s students and their test scores.

Math scores saw their largest decreases ever, while reading scores dropped to levels not seen since 1992 for fourth and eighth graders across the country, according to the Nation’s Report Card. The average mathematics score for fourth-grade students fell five points from 2019 to 2022. The score for eight-graders dropped eight points. Reading for both grades fell three points since 2019.

Not a single state saw improvement in its average test scores, with some recording no change at all. Schools in large urban districts also reflected the national average. These test results are the first to come out since the pandemic. Fourth-grade scores declined in 41 states, with 36 percent considered proficient, down from 41 percent in the previous results

“The results show the profound toll on student learning during the pandemic, as the size and scope of the declines are the largest ever in mathematics,” Commissioner Peggy Carr of the National Center for Education Statistics said.

Math scores were worst among eighth graders, with 38 percent earning scores deemed “below basic” — a cutoff that measures, for example, whether students can find the third angle of a triangle if they’re given the other two. That’s worse than 2019, when 31 percent of eighth graders scored below that level.

“The results also underscore the importance of instruction and the role of schools in both students’ academic growth and their overall well-being,” Carr said, adding that “we do not have a moment to waste” in helping students’ academic recovery.

“I want to be very clear: The results in today’s nation’s report card are appalling and unacceptable,” said Miguel Cardona, U.S. secretary of education. “This is a moment of truth for education. How we respond to this will determine not only our recovery but our nation’s standing in the world.”

Alan Goforth | Metro Voice

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