A recent report shows how students were impacted academically by prolonged school closures and remote classrooms in relation to the Covid 19, with worse grades in math and language arts.

A new report from Renaissance Learning makes a data comparison between the 2020-2021 and 2021-2022 academic years of the performance and progress in early literacy, language and math of K-12 students from schools in all 50 states, plus Washington DC. 

The educational software company analysis included 4.4 million reading or early literacy assessments in 19,046 schools and 2.9 million math assessments in 12,754 schools.

Among the findings were that students this school year are performing at lower levels than the first year of the pandemic, suggesting that the impact from closures and remote learning is still taking its toll.

However, greater student progress was found during the 2021-2022 school year over the previous year, although it continues to be below levels seen before the pandemic.

The study noted “worrisome results,” with especially low educational growth for first-grade students, i.e., children between the ages of 5 and 6, where school closures “may have disrupted the development of basic literacy skills,” the report says.

Early literacy scores for pre-readers at this grade level were 19 points lower on average this fall and 17 points lower in the winter, the study shows.

Meanwhile, Renaissance Learning found that the average student growth percentile, a statistic that measures a student’s growth compared with others with similar scores on previous tests for both reading and math, improved 3 points, to 48 and 50, respectively.

But the report notes that this recovery is not quite real, as most scores still remain below those obtained before the pandemic. 

To fully return to pre-pandemic levels, Renaissance said, the metrics would have to consistently exceed 50.  

“All signs suggest that this is going to be a multiyear recovery,” Gene Kerns, vice president and chief academic officer at Renaissance, said in a statement. 

Kerns said current test results still fall short when compared to pre-pandemic results, and recovery “is going to take time.”

“We can reset instruction back to where it was pre-pandemic, but that isn’t going to instantly move students up to where they would have been had the pandemic not occurred,” Kerns said. 

The findings suggest that the decision by public schools to return to a face-to-face instructional approach has benefited students who have struggled with remote learning.

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