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New Report Shows Decline in Test Scores During Pandemic

Scores in math and reading comprehension dropped dramatically during the pandemic.

The COVID-19 pandemic and its accompanying lifestyle changes were hard on everyone, obviously, but one particular group that had a rough go of things was students. Forced to endure remote learning during lockdowns, students had their motivation severely hampered. According to a new report from the National Center for Education Statistics, that unpleasant set-up has had lasting effects on students’ test scores.

Based on math and reading comprehension exams included in the National Assessment of Educational Progress, also known as the “Nation’s Report Card,” multiple groups of students, especially fourth- and eighth-graders, saw the steepest drop-off in test scores in years.

“If this is not a wake-up call for us to double down our efforts and improve education, even before it was – before the pandemic, then I don’t know what will,” US Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona told CNN, adding that schools should be ensuring that the relief funds from the 2021 package are used to address this.

“Eighth grade is that gateway to more advanced mathematical course taking,” National Center for Education Statistics Commissioner Peggy Carr said in a public statement. “This is what these students are missing. They’re missing these important skills that will prepare them eventually for (science, technology, engineering and math) level careers.”

“What we’re seeing is (lower performing) students … dropping even faster and we’re also seeing students who were not showing declines – students at the top, meaning students at the higher performing levels – they were holding steady before the pandemic or even improving,” Carr said. “Now all the students, regardless of their ability, are dropping. That is the point we need to be taking away from this report.”

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