New stats show U.S. students had lowest test scores in three decades after COVID-19 pandemic

The first national report showing the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on United States students’ test scores was published this week, showing the largest dip in test scores in thirty years.

The National Assessment of Educational Progress released its findings on Thursday, revealing a sharp decline in national test scores for students aged 9 in mathematics and reading between 2020 and 2022.

“Average scores for age 9 students in 2022 declined 5 points in reading and 7 points in mathematics compared to 2020. This is the largest average score decline in reading since 1990, and the first ever score decline in mathematics,” the report reads.

Mathematics test scores dropped an average of 7 points, according to NEAP, and reading scores plummeted 5 points. The report also showed the pandemic took a higher toll on the test scores of students who generally performed at a lower level than students who were typically high-scorers, but even students who were high performers showed lower test scores after the COVID-19 crisis. Scores for lower performers declined the most.

“These results are sobering,” said Peggy G. Carr, commissioner of the National Center for Education Statistics, to the Washington Post. “It’s clear that COVID-19 shocked American education and stunted the academic growth of this age group.” 

Carr told the Post that research has also shown a national rise in behavioral problems in schools, violence, staff shortages and other factors since the onset of the pandemic  that may have had an overall effect on test scores. “There are a lot of factors that contextualize these data that we’re looking at,” Carr said.




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Laura is a freelance writer out of Maryland and a mom of three. Her background is in political science and international relations, and she has been doing political writing and editing for 17 years. Laura has also written parenting pieces for the Today Show and is currently working on writing a collection of remarkable true stories about normal people. She writes for FBA because unbiased news is vital to unity, and readers deserve the facts free of opinion.

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