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Renaissance Answers: Has There Really Been an Impact from COVID on Student Performance?

With data from millions of student assessments, the report will end speculation about learning losses and define the challenges ahead

Renaissance, a global leader in pre-K–12 education technology, today announced the upcoming release of How Kids Are Performing: Tracking the Impact of COVID-19 on Reading and Mathematics Achievement, a report detailing the learning effects associated with COVID-19 school closures. Designed to end the speculation and provide guidance for educators as they address learning gaps, the report will be based on the results of millions of student assessments.

“We’re as eager as the rest of the education world to end the speculation and get to the truth of where our students are as they begin this year,” said Dr. Gene Kerns, vice president and chief academic officer at Renaissance. “This year more than any other, data is going to be key in understanding where our students are and how we can best tailor instruction to meet them there.”

Using data gleaned from Star Assessments—one of the most widely-used assessments in K–12 education—the report will explore key questions including:

  • How does performance in Fall 2020 compare to expected or typical performance by subject and grade?
  • Is there a greater variability in the scores overall?
  • Are particular grades or subject areas more impacted than others?
  • To what extent are particular demographic subgroups impacted?
  • Are there variances between schools in more rural areas and more urban areas?

Although much data is yet to be collected—both school start and fall testing have been delayed in many states—some early trends have begun to emerge from the September data. Based on assessment scores from nearly 2 million students who were tested in both Fall 2019 and Fall 2020, there was no substantive “COVID Slide” in reading: In 2019, 52% of students were performing at/above grade level, and in 2020, 51% of students were.

Math has been a different story. Based on early results comparing performance in Fall 2019 to Fall 2020, there seems to be a decline. In 2019, 65% of these students were at/above grade level, and in 2020, 59% were. This 6 percentage-point drop represents more than 60,000 students. The data also showed a 15% increase in the number of students identified as “needing intervention” in math.

Across both reading and math, initial analyses suggest grades 4 and 5 appear to be the most negatively impacted. While the data snapshot shows some evidence of a “COVID Slide”, Kerns said, “Decreases that are marginal to moderate as the year begins are one thing, but if marginal-to-moderate declines are followed by below-typical progress, then the situation is made more dire.”

To further document how students are performing in 2020–2021, Renaissance will follow up the How Kids Are Performing report with a series of updates on students after the typical winter and spring screening periods to help guide educators throughout this unprecedented academic year.

You can reserve your free copy of the upcoming report by visiting

About Renaissance

As a global leader in assessment, reading, and math solutions for pre-K–12 schools and districts, Renaissance is committed to providing educators with insights and resources to accelerate growth and help all students build a strong foundation for success. Renaissance solutions are used in over one-third of US schools and in more than 100 countries worldwide. The Renaissance portfolio includes Star Assessments, for reliable, accurate insights into K–12 student learning; myIGDIs, for accurate assessment of early learning; myON, to increase students’ access to high-quality reading materials; Accelerated Reader, to support independent reading practice; Freckle, for teacher-led differentiated instruction; and Schoolzilla, to give educators actionable insights into trends in student attendance and achievement. For more information, visit

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