Math and reading scores for 13-year-olds have fallen in the pandemic, sending many students back to levels not seen since the 1970s, the nation’s report card says.
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Maths and reading test scores for 13-year-olds have fallen dramatically during the coronavirus pandemic and there are still no ‘green shoots’ of recovery, the country’s education watchdog has warned.
The average math score for 13-year-olds dropped 9 points from the 2019-2020 school year to 2022-23, according to the Nation’s Report Card from the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP).
Average reading scores dropped four points during the same period, during which the pandemic has ravaged the nation’s education system, closing classrooms and forcing children to study online.
Peggy Carr, the commissioner of the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), warned that test scores had not increased ‘more than two years after most students returned’ to classrooms after the pandemic.
Average math and reading scores declined during the pandemic, according to the Nation’s Report Card from the National Assessment of Educational Progress.
The average math score for 13-year-olds dropped nine points from the 2019-2020 academic year to the 2022-23 year. Image: Students sitting a math test
“The green shoots of academic recovery that we had hoped to see did not materialize,” Carr said in a statement.
Parents and others took to social media to express concern about the falling results, with many blaming the Covid-19 lockdown, but others saying schools were more focused on ‘social issues’ than ‘teaching the three bucks’.
Average reading scores for 13-year-olds are at their lowest point since 2004 — and in math since 1990.
No ‘green shoots’, warns education czar Peggy Carr
But for the worst-performing students, math scores returned to 1978, while reading dropped to levels not seen since 1971, the first year the data was collected.
Scores declined among all racial and ethnic groups and among both boys and girls, and in urban, suburban, and rural areas.
Native American, black, and children from poor families did particularly poorly in math.
Fewer students these days say they often read for fun than a decade ago.
Carr said this is a problem because reading for leisure is ‘strongly associated with higher achievement.
‘Many of our young people will not discover latent passions or areas of interest without reading widely in their own time,’ he added.
The latest NAEP results mark the federal government’s latest major data release on the learning loss epidemic.
They show that schools, teachers and students have a mountain to climb to return to pre-pandemic levels.
The scores are particularly concerning because ages 10-13 are a critical time for mastering the basic skills students need to progress through school and build successful careers.
Students were forced to work at home on laptops in their kitchens during the pandemic
‘Bottom line – these results show that there are troubling gaps in the basic skills of these students,’ says Carr.
‘This is a huge challenge facing the nation.’
The latest numbers echo previous findings that test scores have declined during the pandemic.
Test results from earlier this year showed that U.S. history scores fell among middle school students, while elementary school students’ reading and math scores also fell.
“The educational opportunities we provide today’s students are critical to their individual and collective success,” said Leslie Muldoon, executive director of the National Assessment Governing Board.
“Leaders at the federal, state and community levels must act urgently and prepare students to pursue their educational, career and life goals.”
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