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"Alarming" assessment data shows biggest declines ever recorded for 13-year-olds

Updated: Jul 21, 2023

The latest National Assessment of Education Progress (NAEP) data for the 2022-23 school year show continuing impacts of the COVID lockdowns and school closures. Mathematics scores for 13-year-olds have dropped nine points and reading scores have fallen four points.

The NAEP's long-term trend (LTT) assessment did not show any "green shoots" of academy recovery post-COVID. The results for math were particularly stark - falling to the lowest levels last seen in the 1970s.

NAEP data analysts describe the numbers as "alarming" and "troubling."Scores declined for both boys and girls, across all locations of the country. Among white students, the decline for math averaged six points, while American Indian/Alaska Native students saw the steepest decline of 20 points.

(We have requested the data for each state and are awaiting that information.)

Throughout 2022, the Biden administration urged schools to spend their $122 billion in federal recovery funds on tutoring to help students catch up from pandemic learning losses.

Failing to respond to the troubling NAEP news could leave a generation of students at risk. As reported by the Wall Street Journal:

"National Center for Education Statistics Commissioner Peggy Carr said the most recent data show academic declines suffered during the pandemic haven’t stabilized, despite efforts by districts and schools to address learning loss.

'There are signs of risk for a generation,' she said.

. . . Students who have fallen behind by eighth grade are less likely to succeed in high school and graduate on time, potentially leading to lower college enrollment and earning potential, teachers and researchers said."

Research has shown that high-intensity tutoring may be the best way to help students recover. While some states provide some parents access to funds for tutoring, not all do.

Washington State, for example, does not allow parents access to any funds.

For the sake of students, state policymakers should concentrate efforts on intensive tutoring.

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