For the first time since 2019, national standardized tests were given to students. The results of these tests saw no improvement in scores since the last testing period. In fact, the national math score fell the most in the test’s history since 1969 and reading scores fell to 1992 levels.
More than 60% of fourth-graders tested at the “basic and below” level for math and reading, and 73% of eighth-graders tested at “basic and below” for math. Nearly 70% of eighth-graders tested at “basic and below for reading, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
“I want to be very clear: The results in today’s nation’s report card are appalling and unacceptable,” Education Secretary Miguel Cardona said. “This is a moment of truth for education.”
Cardona said that how the education system responds to the issue will determine our nation’s recovery and standing in the world.
This standardized test is typically given every two years, and before the pandemic, scores were stagnant. The federal exam sampled nearly 450,000 students in fourth and eighth grade from more than 10,000 schools, the New York Times reported, and was taken between January and March of this year.
Several large school districts saw scores that fell by more than 10 points, which analysts equate to losing a full year of learning.
Cleveland saw the most significant drop of 16 points in fourth-grade reading and a 15-point drop in fourth-grade math. Baltimore in Maryland and Shelby County in Tennessee saw similar drops. The data does show racial and economic inequities.
Some researchers said the results do not show a clear link between students who spent longer periods learning remotely compared to those who were back in person at school longer.
Some school districts have since implemented summer school and tutoring programs to try to offset the significant learning loss.