Performance scores of children in elementary and middle schools dropped significantly after institutions moved to online learning during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a report published by iReady, Politico reported.
The test, administered at the start of the school year for children in grades 1-8, also showed large gaps among some of the most vulnerable children, including children of color and low-income students. Nearly 3 million students took it both times — before the pandemic and when they returned to school this fall.
"More students are two or more grade levels below their actual grade level this fall than before the pandemic began," according to Curriculum Associates' November "Understanding Student Learning" report, which analyzed the 2021 scores.
"This means that teachers will not only have fewer students beginning the school year on grade level, but they will also have more students in need of intensive intervention and support."
The findings include:
- More than half of third-grade students in predominantly Black and Latino schools are testing two or more grade levels behind in math.
- 7-9% of children learning to read in second and third grade are two or more grade levels behind as compared to pre-pandemic levels; those rates are higher for students in low-income and predominantly Black and Latino schools.
- 17% more students in predominantly Black and Latino schools are now two or more grade levels behind.
- 59% of students in predominantly Black schools test below grade level in math.
- 49% of third-graders in lower-income areas are two-plus grade levels behind in reading and math, 10-12% more than pre-pandemic levels.
- In math, 10% of children in grades second to sixth are two grade levels behind.
- Declines were worse in Ohio districts where learning remained completely virtual at the start of the last school year.
"This is a disaster," Michael Petrilli, president of the conservative Thomas B. Fordham Institute, told Politico. "The bottom has fallen out, and the results are as bad as you can imagine. We haven't seen this kind of academic achievement crisis in living memory."
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