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1) 9-Year-Olds’ Reading and Mathematics Scores Drop Since Start of Pandemic: First ever drop in mathematics, largest drop in reading in 30 years  (press release)

The reading and mathematics scores of 9-year-old students fell between 2020 and 2022, according to results from the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) long-term trend (LTT) assessment released today by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES).

“These are some of the largest declines we have observed in a single assessment cycle in 50 years of the NAEP program,” said Acting NCES Associate Commissioner Daniel McGrath. “Students in 2022 are performing at a level last seen two decades ago.”

The new results represent the first report with a nationally representative sample of students comparing achievement from before the pandemic to now. NCES conducted a special data collection of the long-term trend assessments in early 2022 to measure changes in 9-year-olds’ achievement over the first two years of the disruptions to learning caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The prior LTT reading and mathematics assessments were administered in 2020, shortly before the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a worldwide pandemic. NCES is releasing these data on an accelerated schedule, just months after the data collection concluded.

Overall, the average mathematics score declined seven points since 2020. The mathematics scores for lower-performing 9-year-old students (students at the 10th and 25th percentiles) declined 12 points and 11 points, respectively, over that period. Mathematics scores also declined for students at the 50th (eight points), 75th (five points), and 90th (three points) percentiles.

The average reading score for 9-year-olds declined five points between 2020 and 2022. The reading scores for lower-performing 9-year-old students (students at the 10th and 25th percentiles) declined 10 points and 8 points, respectively, over that period. Reading scores also declined for students at the 50th (four points), 75th (three points), and 90th (two points) percentiles.

“During the pandemic, NCES continued and enhanced other data collections on education challenges, and they paint a sobering picture,” said NCES Commissioner Peggy G. Carr. “School shootings, violence, and classroom disruptions are up, as are teacher and staff vacancies, absenteeism, cyberbullying, and students’ use of mental health services. This information provides some important context for the results we're seeing from the long-term trend assessment.”

The 2022 LTT results for 9-year-olds are the only nationally representative data available to measure student achievement pre-pandemic to early 2022, when students returned to in-person learning on a more consistent basis. There will be a deeper and more comprehensive look at student achievement with the release of main NAEP results later this year. Then, NCES will report on mathematics and reading student achievement at grades 4 and 8 for the nation, states, and for 26 urban school districts.

2) Reading and mathematics scores decline during COVID-19 pandemic (highlights)
3) Commissioner’s Statement on the Upcoming Release of NAEP Long-Term Trend Assessment Results (8.31.22)

4) Mark Schneider, IES Director, Downward Trends: Pre- and Post-pandemic NAEP Results (blog)

5) Statement by U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona on Recent NAEP Data  

6) Media

WaPo, American students’ test scores plunge to levels unseen for decades https://www.washingtonpost.com/education/2022/09/01/student-test-scores-plunged-pandemic/
Axios, National test scores fall to lowest levels in decades https://www.axios.com/2022/09/01/students-covid-19-pandemic-learning-loss
The Hechinger Report, Plunging NAEP scores make clear the long and difficult road ahead to pandemic recovery https://hechingerreport.org/plunging-naep-scores-make-clear-the-long-and-difficult-road-ahead-to-pandemic-recovery/

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