Elementary students fell 4 to 5 months behind during COVID

A new report reveals U.S. elementary school students were four to five months behind their expected level of academic achievement at the end of the 2020 school year, writes Axios.

Researchers from McKinsey compared academic achievement for K-12 students after the 2020-21 school year to matched students from previous years, and found that students were testing 10 points behind in math and 9 points behind in reading on average.

The numbers were worse for historically disadvantaged students — students in majority black schools ended the year with six months of unfinished learning, while students from low-income schools finished seven months behind.

Months of school closures and inadequate distance learning not only impacted students academically but could have economic ramifications for decades to come.

The authors wrote that “unless steps are taken to address unfinished learning, today’s students may earn $49,000 to $61,000 less over their lifetime owing to the impact of the pandemic on their schooling.”

That translates to an impact on the U.S. economy of $128 billion to $188 billion every year as these students enter the workforce.

The bottom line: “More time spent in remote education correlated to worse outcomes,” concludes Axios.

Gov. Tim Walz directed $75 million of what the state received in flexible federal dollars from the American Rescue Plan toward summer learning programs to help address learning loss. We will see how successful these efforts prove to be.