October 1, 2023

Key points:

While students grew academically in the 2022-23 school year, achievement gains fell short of pre-pandemic trends in most grades, with the exception of the youngest students who bucked this trend and made above average achievement gains, according to a new report from nonprofit K-12 assessment and research organization NWEA

The report is the latest in NWEA’s efforts to track the impact of pandemic disruptions on academic gains and achievement levels for U.S. students using data from the 2022-23 academic year. This analysis provides the most current evidence to help guide recovery efforts and resource allocations in support of schools. While the pandemic is now deemed over, the impacts on students based on two markers, achievement in reading and mathematics, are still apparent.

Using data from 6.7 million U.S. public school students currently in grades 3 – 8, the study examined academic gains in the 2022-23 school year relative to pre-pandemic years. It also tracked the gap in achievement between the COVID year student group compared to their pre-pandemic peers.

Key findings from the study:

  • The gap in achievement levels between the COVID cohort and their pre-pandemic peers did not shrink in 2022-23, and in some grades widened slightly.
  • With these latest numbers, it’s estimated that most students would now need, on average, an additional 4.5 months of mathematics instruction and 4.1 months of reading instruction to recover in these two subjects.
  • All groups showed sluggish achievement gains, but traditionally marginalized students (Black, Hispanic), remain furthest from recovery.
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