Report shows significant drop in academics over the last two years

by mcardinal

Lauren Dempsey, MS in Biomedicine and Law, RN, FISM News 


A new report conducted by Renaissance, detailed the negative impact that COVID-19 lockdowns had on school-aged children, showing that student performance and understanding declined with students learning remotely. Performance declined even further during the second year of pandemic learning, suggesting that the continues lack of face-to-face instruction compounded the negative results.

The results of the study showed that students scored worse on standardized testing across the board when compared with pre-pandemic scores, a clear sign that virtual learning and school closures had a marked negative impact on learning. 

The report generated by Renaissance is based on the analysis of standardized test scores for early literacy, reading, and math during both the academic years of 2020–2021 and 2021–2022 which included 4.4 million early literacy or reading assessments at 19,046 schools and 2.9 million math assessments at 12,754 schools, covering K-12 students across the U.S. The results of their analysis were concerning, especially in children in first grade and below, as well as for pre-readers who had much lower test scores.  

Gene Kearns, Vice President and Chief Academic Officer at Renaissance, said that “all signs suggest that this is going to be a multiyear recovery,” adding that “we can reset instruction back to where it was pre-pandemic, but that isn’t going to instantly move students up to where they would have been had the pandemic not occurred.” Kearns compared school closures to working out at the gym saying “if you worked out every day and then stopped for two years, you aren’t going to be in the same shape as before the break when you return to the gym. We know what to do — and educators are rising to meet this great challenge — but it’s going to take time.”

The Renaissance report confirms a previous study from UNICEF, which found that school closures resulted in an alarming loss of education. United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres said in September of 2021 that “we are short-changing an entire generation whose minds and futures hang in the balance. We must prioritize the reopening of schools and support those who have lost out during the pandemic. There is no time to lose.” 

The organization estimates that 131 million schoolchildren in 11 countries missed 75% of their in-person learning from March 2020 to September 2021, and 59% of school children have missed almost all in-person instruction time. At the time, the organization reported that combined, students had missed a total of 1.8 trillion hours of instructional time globally, and that number is surely to have risen since then.

It is believed that it will take years for students to catch up to where they should be academically, with some experts warning that children will never fully recover from the extensive lost instruction time.

Additionally, some study results suggest that the academic damage was worse for children that already had learning difficulties, as well as for children that had less socio-economic advantages due to a lack in critical resources.