Journal article

The COVID-19 school year: Learning and recovery across 2020-2021

June 2022

Published in:

AERA Open, 8.

By: Megan Kuhfeld, James Soland, Karyn Lewis, Erik Ruzek, Angela Johnson


The schooling disruptions due to the COVID-19 pandemic continue to reverberate across the K-12 educational system more than a year after schools closed for in-person instruction. In this study, we examined the aftermath of these disruptions by modeling student achievement trends prior to and during the pandemic, with particular focus on growth in 2020-2021. The data included test scores from 4.9 million U.S. students in Grades 3 through 8. Although the average student demonstrated positive gains in math and reading during the 2020-2021 school year, students were still behind typical (prepandemic) averages by spring 2021 (0.16 to 0.26 standard deviations behind in math and 0.06 to 0.11 standard deviations behind in reading). Furthermore, growth in math was more variable than in prior years, and much of the gains occurred among initially high-performing students pulling further ahead. Findings support the theory that the pandemic left students behind academically across the board while also worsening existing educational inequities.

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This article was published outside of NWEA. The full text can be found at the link above.

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