Schools should be prepared for some students to be nearly a year behind in math come fall, according to new projections analyzing the impact COVID-19 could eventually have on students’ academic progress.
NWEA, a nonprofit provider of assessment solutions, released projections that current school closures due to the COVID-19 global pandemic could result in substantially lower achievement levels for students.
The forecasts leveraged previous NWEA research on summer learning loss (also known as summer slide) and used a national sample of over five million students in grades 3-8 who took MAP Growth assessments to estimate potential impacts of the COVID-19 related school closures.
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COVID-19 could have a devastating academic impact on students
The research compared academic achievement trajectories during a typical school year for grades 3 – 8 where no disruption to learning took place, to two scenarios for the closure: a COVID-19 slide, in which students showed patterns of learning loss typical of summers throughout an extended closure, and COVID-19 slowdown, in which students maintained the same level of academic achievement they had when schools were closed (modeled for simplicity as beginning March 15) until schools reopened.
Preliminary estimates suggest impacts may be larger in mathematics than in reading, and that students may return in fall 2020 with less than 50 percent of typical learning gains, and in some grades, nearly a full year behind what we would expect in this subject under normal conditions.
For reading, the outlook is a bit more optimistic. However, forecasts suggest some students will return in fall with about 70 percent of the learning gains relative to a typical year.