Latest NWEA Research Shows Gaps in K12 Education Still Large, But Shows Signs of Stabilizing


PORTLAND, Ore., Dec. 22, 2021 / PRNewswire / – NWEA – a not-for-profit research and education provider serving K-12 students – today released new research that illustrates the extent and disproportionate nature of the disruption in the classroom. student learning resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic. The research, Learning during COVID-19: An update on student achievement and growth at the start of the 2021-22 school year, is the third in a series of NWEA research notes focused on understanding the impact of the pandemic on student achievement in reading and math.

The research looked at the MAP Growth assessment scores of six million U.S. public school students in Grades 3 to 8 as of fall 2021 compared to same-grade students in fall 2019, the last quarter not affected by COVID-19. Research has found evidence of significant levels of unfinished learning, especially in math, however, the gaps between current scores and pre-pandemic scores have not increased since the end of 2020-2021, which may indicate that the impacts of the pandemic stabilize.

The main findings include:

  • Student performance at the start of the 2021-2022 school year was lower than in a typical year, with larger relative declines in math (9 to 11 percentile points) than in reading (3 to 7 percentile points). percentile).
  • Performance was lower for all groups of students in fall 2021; However, as our data has already shown, historically marginalized students and students in very poor schools were disproportionately affected, especially in the elementary grades studied.
  • Student earnings throughout the pandemic (fall 2019 to fall 2021) have lagged behind pre-pandemic growth standards, especially in math.
  • Normative growth trends during the pandemic varied according to pre-pandemic success status; the best-performing students achieved gains more consistent with the projected normative growth, while the lowest-performing students were more likely to be below the growth projections.

The research findings offer further evidence highlighting the inequitable nature of unfinished learning across the pandemic and shed light on groups and areas that should be targeted for further support as COVID recovery efforts continue in the region. during the school year 2021-2022 and beyond.

The NWEA undertook this research with the aim of examining the academic progress of students entering third grade affected by the COVID pandemic so that educators and policymakers are equipped with the current evidence needed to guide decisions and provide evidence. adjustments needed in the context of COVID. -19 recovery efforts.

“This latest research highlights that even though students are back in classrooms, that doesn’t mean everything is back to ‘normal’ before the pandemic, even though there are early signs of some stabilization. The continued impact continues to disrupt learning and, in particular, hits our most vulnerable students, ”said Chris minnich, CEO of the NWEA. “It is critical, more than ever, to direct funding where it is most needed and to identify the interventions needed to improve student outcomes, especially for those who have experienced the greatest disruption. ”

The continuing impact of the pandemic highlights the urgency for education leaders to harness data to understand the varied needs of their students and develop plans to spend their significant federal resources aligned with the needs of students in local contexts. In addition, states and districts should put in place data collection and reporting processes to understand which interventions are successful in improving student outcomes.

As previously announced, the NWEA research team is part of the “Road to Recovery” effort in collaboration with CALDER of the American Institutes for Research (AIR) and the Center for Education Policy Research (CEPR) at Harvard University. , to help districts review student performance. and learning gains from COVID-19 recovery programs.

To learn more about the new research,

About the NWEA

NWEA® (formerly known as Northwest Evaluation Association) is a mission-driven, non-profit organization that supports students and educators in over 146 countries through research, assessment solutions, policy and advocacy services, professional learning and school improvement services that strive for equity, drive impact in the classroom and push for systemic change in our educational communities. Visit to learn more about how we partner with educators to help all children learn.

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