August 10, 2021

The pandemic’s toll: National test scores show progress slowed, gaps widened

A pandemic that reshaped American society and disrupted more than a year of schooling also slowed progress in math and reading for millions of U.S. students, according to new national data, which confirms Black, Latino, and low-income students were hit hardest.

Younger students saw some of the biggest declines, as did students attending high-poverty schools. That means the pandemic widened pre-pandemic test score gaps by race and economic status.

The results may turn out to be the clearest national accounting of the academic losses of last school year. The results are likely to encourage academic recovery efforts, though there is still some debate about whether those gaps should be schools’ top priority when students return in the fall.

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