Only 67% of 3rd graders performed at grade level in reading this … – K-12 Dive

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Although schools focused on learning recovery during the 2021-22 school year, new research suggests students didn’t fully regain ground lost during the pandemic in reading and math achievement. The largest differences in learning outcomes came in the formative years, the early elementary and middle school years when students are building and solidifying foundational reading and math skills. 
Only 67% of 3rd-grade students assessed on reading performed on grade level in spring 2022, which was only a tiny increase from 66% in spring 2021 and still below the historical rate of 72%. The study, conducted by Curriculum Associates, looked at nearly 2 million students in grades 1-8 who took the i-Ready online assessment.
A lower percentage of students were at grade level in math when compared to pre-pandemic achievement, particularly in grades 3-5. In 3rd grade, for example, just 54% performed on grade level compared to 65% prior to the pandemic.
In a separate report, Curriculum Associates identified 301 schools nationwide where students are exceeding learning expectations and identified how school leaders there are nudging their students toward recovery.
“The question is no longer if or how the pandemic affected student learning, it is if and how it can recover,” said Kristen Huff, vice president of assessment and research at Curriculum Associates, in a statement. The company provides instructional strategies and created the i-Ready assessment used in many districts.
The findings from Curriculum Associates come less than two weeks after National Assessment of Education Progress long-term trends for 9-year-old students showed first-time declines in math and the most significant decline in reading since the 1980s. Those trends showed reading scores for 9-year-olds, who are mostly 3rd- and 4th-graders, declined by 5 points compared to pre-pandemic levels. Math declined by 7 points.
Additional research released Wednesday shows 2021 test score losses when compared to pre-pandemic levels were largest in the districts with the least access to in-person learning, on average. This disparity continues in 2022.
“Districts that had more remote learning during the pandemic have a much longer way to go and investments in recovery are urgently needed to address learning loss and accelerate student outcomes,” said Emily Oster, professor of economics at Brown University, who studied the state assessment data. 
While the costs of the pandemic continue, Oster said, there are signs of recovery in some states as in-person instruction increases.
Researchers from Curriculum Associates spoke to leaders serving low-income schools and schools serving mostly students of color where students are exceeding expectations and identified six promising school leadership practices that encourage student growth:
This story has been updated to include additional information.
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From early learning to high school, the pandemic impacted equity at all levels of K-12, from persistent and widening achievement gaps to uneven access to school meals.
Photo illustration: Shaun Lucas/Industry Dive; Getty Images
These leaders are shaping the nation’s schools with commitments to high expectations, strong relationships and robust career exploration models.
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From early learning to high school, the pandemic impacted equity at all levels of K-12, from persistent and widening achievement gaps to uneven access to school meals.
Photo illustration: Shaun Lucas/Industry Dive; Getty Images
These leaders are shaping the nation’s schools with commitments to high expectations, strong relationships and robust career exploration models.
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