How did the COVID-19 pandemic impact student achievement growth in math and reading during school year (SY) 2021–22?
In March 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic forced schools to close and abruptly switch to remote learning. Since that time, schools have slowly transitioned back to in-person learning, and school year (SY) 2021–22 was the first full year where most students returned to in-person learning. In this report, we continue the Metro Atlanta Policy Lab for Education’s (MAPLE) research agenda analyzing how the pandemic has affected student achievement in three metro-Atlanta school districts—focusing on recent pandemic-era student achievement growth during SY 2021–22.
This report is the third in a series of reports where we measure pandemic-era student achievement growth. In this updated report, Tim Sass and Salma Mohammad Ali utilize administrative data from three metro-Atlanta school districts: Clayton County Public Schools, DeKalb County School District, and Fulton County Schools. We measure student achievement growth in math and reading using scores from the i-Ready and MAP Growth formative assessments. Using national percentile rankings, we compare student achievement during the pandemic to that of students throughout the United States from before the pandemic.
We find that the return to near-universal in-person learning in SY 2021–22 did not yield substantial improvements in average math or reading achievement growth. Similar to our previous report, we find that students who were in Grades 1–3 when the pandemic hit fared worse than students who were in middle school, though this pattern is more pronounced for math than reading. The pandemic has impacted students differently, and the subsequent recovery has been uneven across student groups. We find that differences in achievement by race and ethnicity and economic status have grown in some districts but not in others. We also find a narrowing of place-based average achievement differences for one school district.
While our findings confirm that some students are now at or near their pre-pandemic achievement levels, many other students remain substantially below their pre-pandemic achievement levels. We suggest that recovery efforts focus on students who experienced the greatest declines in national rankings and have been the slowest to recover. High-dosage small-group tutoring (either in-person or online) is the most promising strategy for promoting academic recovery.
To read more, please download the policy brief and the report and its appendix below.