Despite a year of disruptions, students made massive academic gains last year that paralleled their growth pre-pandemic and outpaced the previous school year, according to new research released Tuesday from the NWEA, a non-profit. -For-profit research group that administers standardized tests.
The researchers found that gains on income levels partially closed the gap in learning resulting from the pandemic. But students in higher-poverty schools fell further behind, making it possible that they would need more time than their higher-income peers to fully recover.
The results are a measured sign of hope for the academic recovery from COVID-19. But continued effort and investment in education is important.
“These signs of rebounding are particularly encouraging during a more challenging school year with more forms, staff shortages, and a host of uncertainties. We feel this is part of the tremendous efforts our schools put in to support students. speaks volumes for the study,” Karen Lewis, director of the Center for School and Student Progress at NWEA and co-author of the study, said in a statement.
The study used data from more than 8 million students who took the MAP Growth Assessment in reading and math during the three school years affected by COVID. Those numbers were then compared to data from three years before the pandemic.
The study found that if rebounding occurs at the same pace it did in the 2021-2022 school year, the deadline for a full recovery is beyond the 2024 deadline for schools to spend their federal funds. will reach.
For the average elementary school student, the researchers estimated it would take three years to get to where they would have been without the pandemic. For older students, recovery may take longer. Across grade levels, subjects and demographic groups, the exact timeline can vary widely and the researchers found that most students will need more than two years where federal funding has increased.
Some of the most successful interventions for students include increasing instructional time from more classroom time, deeper learning, or high-quality summer programming, said Lindsey Dworkin, senior vice president of policy and communications at NWEA. But those initiatives can be costly and complicated, and districts may be hesitant to implement them when recovery funds have a fast spending deadline.
“Funding runs out in such a short time that districts are really struggling with, ‘What can I do that will be big and impactful and what do I only need to do for two years? Dworkin said in an interview. “I think if they knew that more federal money was coming and it would be sustained, it would make all the difference in the kind of creativity we would see from states and districts.”
Dworkin also noted that while the study looked at national trends, understanding the unique and specific local context was essential to figure out how to best support children in schools. In addition to variation in student groups, districts sharing similar characteristics such as demographics and poverty levels still showed considerable variation in student outcomes.
“If you are a district leader, there is no national story that will tell you enough about the context of your district, without the hard work of digging into the data and understanding what it says and then matching interventions. prepares to do,” Dorkin said. ,
Ma covers education and equity for Associated Press’s Race and Ethnicity team. Follow her on Twitter: https://www.twitter.com/anniema15
Associated Press reporting about race and ethnicity issues is supported by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education. Associated Press is solely responsible for all content.