Post-COVID National Test Scores Show Major Setbacks For Students, Especially Along Racial Lines

Black and Hispanic students were already disadvantaged before the pandemic derailed in-class learning, but the pandemic widened the gaps.

The COVID-19 pandemic is blamed for the bad report card students received nationwide for their reading and math scores, as well as for widening the racial gap in academic achievement.

On Oct. 24, the National Assessment of Educational Progress, also known as the “Nation's Report Card,” released a full report for the first time since 2019, giving “the first look at the COVID-19 pandemic’s impact” on fourth- and eighth-graders.

Nationwide, average math scores saw their largest decrease ever recorded. Math scores for fourth-graders dropped five points since 2019, and eighth-grade math scores fell eight points. In reading, average scores for both grades fell three points.

“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,” said National Center for Education Statistics Commissioner Peggy G. Carr.

“The results also underscore the importance of instruction and the role of schools in both students’ academic growth and their overall wellbeing. It’s clear we all need to come together—policymakers and community leaders at every level—as partners in helping our educators, children, and families succeed,” Carr added.

Drilling down into the data, The Associated Press reports that racial inequalities appear to have widened, as many had suspected. Black and Hispanic fourth-graders had larger decreases than white students.

In classrooms across the nation, Black and Hispanic students were already disadvantaged before the pandemic disrupted in-class learning. They disproportionately learn in classrooms headed by inexperienced and uncertified teachers, contributing to the academic achievement gap that has stubbornly persisted for decades, according to studies from the nonprofit education advocacy group The Education Trust, reported by The 74.

RELATED: Black And Latino Students Disproportionately Taught By Inexperienced, Uncertified Teachers, Study Shows

In a call with reporters, U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona called the national report card grades “appalling and unacceptable,” according to NPR.

“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,” Cardona added.

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