- Reading development stalled in the youngest students during the pandemic, according to research from the Stanford Graduate School of Education. Researchers found changes in the growth of reading skills year-over-year at different periods.
- A nationwide reading assessment of students in grades 1-4 shows oral reading fluency development stopped in spring of 2020. Though gains made in the fall were steeper than normal, they were not enough to make up for the loss of development in the spring.
- The reading fluency of 2nd- and 3rd-graders was most affected, with students in that age group being approximately 30% behind where they would typically be. The research also shows, after adjusting to school closures, educators found a way to teach and assess reading skills that brought development gains similar to in-person instruction predating the pandemic.
Research published in May 2020 by NWEA warned schools to prepare for some students to fall behind in math by nearly a year. The research predicted reading gains to be 63% to 68% of what they normally would be, while math gains were predicted to be 37% to 50% of what would be normal yearly gains.
Part of the problem in the spring was that instruction was hit-or-miss due to the emergency nature of the transition to virtual learning. An April 2020 Gallop poll showed 83% of students were in distance learning environments, yet some teachers reported having no contact with many students.
Research published by McKinsey & Company found learning losses are more acute for students of color. On average, students learned 67% of the math and 87% of the reading skills they would typically acquire during the same period. The gains made by students of color were even lower, at 59% of typical growth in math and 77% of typical growth in reading.