More: How much have students fallen behind during the school’s shutdown?

Fall 2020 EstimateThe  COVID schools’ shutdown compounded the inevitable “summer slide”.

In a prior post (originally published July 30, 2020 and re-posted last week), we provided background on students’ “summer slide” in learning … and presented some research projecting how much “dislearning” will have occurred since schools closed in Spring, 2020 until Fall, 2020.

At the time, the WSJ did a study that painted a dire picture:  The Results Are In for Remote Learning: It Didn’t Work.

Preliminary research projects students nationwide will return to school in the fall with roughly 30% dis-learning in reading relative to a typical school year, and more than 50% in math.

Those were forecasts, so we asked the rhetorical question: Wouldn’t it be nice if we knew how much students’ actually regressed while schools have been closed?

And, we advised: To find out, give students a round of standardized tests at the start of the school year.

We predicted: Results would likely shock educators, parents and politicos alike.


Well, a  national testing service did just what we asked.

According to the WSJ

Data from Renaissance Learning — a national testing program which is used widely by U.S. public schools to assess students’ progress — shows widespread performance declines at the start of 2020-2021 academic year, particularly in math.


The Renaissance Learning study analyzed reading and math scores for more than five million students in grades 1 through 8 who took assessments in fall 2020.

In math, Renaissance’s results showed that students in all in grades 2 to 8 were behind “expectations” that are based on prior student performance in prior years.

The miss against expectations was particularly acute for fifth and sixth graders.

They started the school year 12 or more weeks behind their expected performance in math.


Note: Schools were closed for approximately 12 weeks in Spring 2020 … which is roughly equal to the full “slide” among 5th and 6th graders.


In reading, grades 4 to 7 started the 2020-2021 school year 4 or more weeks behind their expected performance.

On average, students in grades 1, 3 and 8 scored roughly at the expected level in reading.

Second grade students outperformed expectations in reading.


Note: Schools were closed for approximately 12 weeks in Spring 2020 … which is roughly equal to about 1/2 of the reading “slide” among 4th, 5th, 6th and 7th graders.


Now, wouldn’t it be useful to give students standardized tests this spring, as more of them  return to school?

Again, results would likely shock educators, parents and politicos alike. Maybe even the stonewalling teachers’ unions.

Let’s at least calibrate how much learning we’ve lost during the COVID schools’ shutdown.

Then, maybe we’ll have the collective sense of urgency required to put together a meaningful recovery plan.

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