The Nation’s Report Card Results Are In, and It’s Worse Than We Thought

By Chris Ramirez, age 10 and IndyKids staff

Almost three years after the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, U.S. kids’ test scores have begun to demonstrate just how much has been lost. The National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) reported in late 2022 that reading and math achievement levels of tested grades have declined significantly. 

The NAEP, known as the nation’s report card, tested nearly 450,000 children from fourth and eighth grades across the United States and found unprecedented declines in math and worrying drops in reading achievement over the last three years. “The results point out and confirm that this is a pretty massive hit to student achievement in our country,” said Scott Marion, a testing expert and member of the board that oversees the tests, to Chalkbeat

Math scores in eighth grade dropped by eight points, while those for fourth grade dropped by five. In reading, scores fell by three points in both grades. Peggy Carr, commissioner of the National Center for Education Statistics, explained in an interview with AP News that a one- or two-point decline may sometimes happen, but an eight-point decline is extremely worrying. To demonstrate the severity, Carr explained that 10 points is roughly one year of learning. ‘‘It is a serious wake-up call for us all,” Carr said.

The scores reflect a multitude of problems created by the pandemic. From school closures to issues surrounding remote schooling, students around the country faced hardship. Drops in test scores for the nation’s most vulnerable students were largely more pronounced, putting them even further behind their peers. 

The federal government invested $123 billion in U.S. schools in 2021. From these funds, just 20% was required to be spent on academic recovery. Experts believe this is an inadequate amount considering how big this problem is. This funding is set to expire in 2024. However, it may take billions of dollars and several years for grades to fully recover.

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