DiversityInc.com, By Brian Good, Posted December 11th 2020
Results of lockdowns, home-schooling, and Zoom classrooms as a result of COVID-19 are starting to come in, and the numbers aren’t good. According to a review of more than 4 million test scores of children in grades three through eight, the pandemic is definitely having a negative impact on learning. The research-based nonprofit group NWEA (formerly the Northwest Evaluation Association) analyzed the results of a series of standardized tests which were administered this fall and found that scores for students had dropped significantly across the board, especially in math where students scored an average of five to 10 percentile points behind students taking the same test last year. While reading scores did remain fairly consistent for white students compared to non-pandemic years, there was also a decline in reading retention and comprehension among Black and Hispanic students and those who attend high-poverty schools.
“Those groups of students saw slight declines, suggesting the pandemic has exacerbated long-standing educational disparities, possibly setting children who were already behind their white and more affluent peers even further behind,” said Erin Einhorn of NBC News.
“It’s a reason for concern and it’s a reason to really focus our attention on helping catch kids up,” said Megan Kuhfeld, an NWEA senior research scientist and the lead author of the study. While the numbers are alarming on their own, Kuhfeld and her team fear the results could be even more dire. Nearly 25% of students who would normally take the NWEA’s widely-used MAP assessment each fall weren’t able to complete the tests this year, suggesting the loss in learning could be even worse than what the group has calculated.