Studies released over the last two years have shown incontrovertibly that American students have experienced significant academic setbacks during the pandemic. Precisely how much is still unknown, but new research offers a stark precedent: Comparing test scores from over 5 million students across 2019, 2020 and 2021, the authors find that learning loss during COVID has exceeded that suffered by students in New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina. While the disruptions were significant across the board, performance declines in math were greater than in reading — and set in faster once schools began to close. “If you think about how prolonged the disruptions were, it does make sense to me that we saw larger drops than we did during the hurricane,” researcher Megan Kuhfeld said.
Kevin Mahnken reports.