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Why Reading and Math Scores Have Dropped to Lowest Level in Years

Written by Cove Johnson Rabidoux


The coronavirus pandemic of 2020 had a lasting impact on education and the way children and teenagers learn. The pandemic has led to a considerable decline in both reading and math scores around the globe, but particularly in the United States. After the transition to remote learning from in-person learning and the interruption of face-to-face instruction, a lot of students encountered difficulties in sustaining their reading and math proficiency.

Additionally, the pandemic worsened the already existing disparities in education, with children and teens from low-income households and those with restricted access to technology being especially impacted.


The pandemic caused a deficiency in math and reading scores that are still prevalent today, more than two years after most students returned to in-person learning. According to the results of the Nation’s Report Card, which is a federal test, children's reading scores are at the lowest level they have been in decades and math scores are equally as bad, with many math scores plummeting by large margins. The Nation’s Report Card states that the average scores (from tests given last fall) declined by 4 points in the reading category and by 9 points in the math category, compared to tests given in 2019.


This is especially concerning since the years of education lost due to the pandemic cannot be recovered. Additionally, the lack of access to resources and technology during the pandemic exacerbated the digital divide, leading to widening gaps in educational development between students from low-income and high-income families. The pandemic also caused a serious decline in student motivation, with students from elementary school to high school struggling to engage actively with their school work. As a result, many students have found it even harder to keep up with their peers, which further hinders their educational progress. As Denise Fortes, the CEO and president of Education Trust, a nonprofit advocacy group says, “Students want to succeed, attend college, start a rewarding career, and reach their full academic potential, but they can’t if they continue to lose precious ground.”




The decline in reading and math scores is a serious issue and one that needs to be addressed. Students must be provided with the necessary resources and support to ensure they can maintain their academic performance. This includes providing access to tutoring, engaging classroom activities, as well as creating a safe and supportive learning environment. It is important to recognize that many students are still reeling from the mental health struggles of the pandemic. By providing students with the necessary support and resources, teachers and parents can help ensure that their education is not compromised and that students can succeed in the future.


Overall, the coronavirus pandemic has had a lasting negative impact on students' reading and math scores around the world that is still visible today. The damage to education caused by the pandemic is immense, and the effects on student's academic progress may take even more years to recover from.


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