STUDY: Students needed to make up learning losses, but expectations were lowered

A study of three million students found that students were given assignments below their grade level one-third of the time in the 2020-2021 school year.


(Daily Caller News Foundation) — 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.

Students given the most work below grade level were receiving assignments below academic expectations 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 63.4% of grade-level questions 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.


Reagan Reese