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Test Score Patterns Across Three COVID-19-impacted School Years

The COVID-19 pandemic has been a seismic and on-going disruption to K-12 schooling. Using test scores from 5.4 million U.S. students in grades 3-8, we tracked changes in math and reading achievement across the first two years of the pandemic. Average fall 2021 math test scores in grades 3-8 were .20-27 standard deviations (SDs) lower relative to same-grade peers in fall 2019, while reading test scores decreased by .09-.18 SDs. Achievement gaps between students in low-poverty and high-poverty elementary schools grew by .10-.20 SDs, primarily during the 2020-21 school year. Observed declines are more substantial than during other recent school disruptions, such as those due to natural disasters.

COVID-19; learning loss; achievement gaps
Education level
Document Object Identifier (DOI)

EdWorkingPaper suggested citation:

Kuhfeld, Megan, James Soland, and Karyn Lewis. (). Test Score Patterns Across Three COVID-19-impacted School Years. (EdWorkingPaper: 22-521). Retrieved from Annenberg Institute at Brown University:

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