Researchers find students falling behind in math because of COVID-19 pandemic

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DENVER (KDVR) — Researchers analyzed test results from 4.4 million students across the U.S. and found that while students have made learning gains during the COVID-19 pandemic, they are not gaining as much ground in math.

The study was conducted by the Northwest Evaluation Association. It examined MAP Growth Assessments from fall 2020 compared to fall 2019 for students in third through eighth grades.

Researchers suspected test results would show students did not perform as well in fall 2020 because of school shutdowns in spring 2020 and the switch to remote learning because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Researchers found that students performed similar in reading to students in the same grade in fall 2019. Despite switching to remote learning, students learned to read at the same proficiency.

However, students scored 5 to 10 percentage points lower in math than students in the same grade in 2019.

Researchers say in all grades, most students made some learning gains in both math and reading since the pandemic started. However, students made smaller gains in math, resulting in more students falling behind.

Researchers caution their results come with a caveat. They say the data is not the full picture. Students especially vulnerable to the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic are more likely to be missing from the data.

Researchers say they have an incomplete understanding of how students of different backgrounds and ethnicities performed and worry they may be underestimating the impact of COVID-19 on student learning.

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