Students Needed To Make Up Pandemic Learning Losses. Instead, Expectations Were Lowered, Study Shows

Despite the COVID-19 pandemic significantly hampering K-12 education, millions of students across the U.S. are working on assignments substantially below their grade level, according to a study released Monday.

Readworks, a non-profit focused on K-12 literacy gaps, studied 65 million assignments given to three million students in the 2020-2021 school year amid the COVID-19 pandemic, which caused students to miss months of learning, according to the report. Students were given assignments below their “grade level,” or academic expectations correlating to their age, one-third of the time.

“Our analysis reveals a stark disconnect between the extent of students’ unfinished learning during the pandemic and the opportunities they’re getting to engage with the grade level work they need to catch up,” the report stated. “It suggests that while many school systems are talking about learning acceleration, far fewer have implemented a successful learning acceleration strategy.”

K-12 students impacted by the pandemic learning loss are expected to lose “9% of their lifetime earnings,” the report stated.

Readworks did a study in 2021 which showed that assigning students more difficult work accelerates learning and can make up for pandemic learning losses, yet educators are assigning work below grade level 5% more than they were before the pandemic, the report stated.

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Students given the most work below grade level were receiving assignments below academic expecatations two-thirds of the time by the end of the school year, according to the report. Students who completed 90% of their assignments correctly still received 25% of assignments below grade level.

Students answered grade level questions 63.4% correctly while answering questions correctly 68.2% of the time when work was below grade level, the report stated.

The Government Accountability Office released a report in June stating that nearly 96% of K-12 educators were reporting that at least some of their students were behind academic expectations. About 45% of educators said at least half of their students were failing to meet grade level expectations.

Readworks did not immediately respond to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment.

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