The math and reading scores for 9-year-olds declined sharply bringing them to their lowest level since 1990. A report from the NCES that was just released attributed this decline to the Coronavirus Pandemic and school closures.

Released by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), the new data shows nine-year-olds’ reading scores saw the steepest decline since 1990 (a full five-point drop) while math scores saw a record drop of seven points. The results were tracked by the special administration of the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), which has often been referred to as the “nation’s report card.”

The math score of 234 equaled the score in 1999 while the reading score of 215 equaled the score in 2004. Exactly how long it will take for the scores to jump back to pre-pandemic levels remains unknown.

To make matters worse, students who were already struggling pre-pandemic suffered an even steeper drop compared to their counterparts, dropping an average of 12 points in reading and math. Black students dropped an average of 13 points in Math while Hispanic students dropped eight points; whites by five points. All three groups dropped by six points in reading.

“While we see declines at all performance levels, the growing gap between students at the top and those at the bottom is an important but overlooked trend,” said Martin West, a member of the governing board that sets policy for NAEP. “These results show that this gap widened further during the pandemic.”

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