Nov 23, 2022 - News

The pandemic set some Texas students back a year in learning

Change in eighth grade math proficiency in Texas
Data: Education Recovery Scorecard; Chart: Alice Feng/Axios

Texas students in third through eighth grades are lagging in learning compared with pre-pandemic years, per new research conducted by Stanford and Harvard universities.

Why it matters: 92% of parents nationally believe their children are at or above grade level now that in-person learning has resumed, but the research shows that's not true everywhere, Thomas Kane, project co-leader from Harvard University, tells Axios.

  • Districts can use the data to figure out how to spend the rest of their federal pandemic aid, which must be allocated by September 2024.

The big picture: Texas students have a learning loss of over five months in math and more than a month in reading, according to the research, called the Education Recovery Scorecard.

  • Learning losses could affect life outcomes such as high school graduation, college enrollment, arrests and teen motherhood.

Methodology: The scorecard, which compares states over the 2019-2022 period, adds a layer of comparison to data recently released by the National Assessment of Educational Progress, which also found Texas students fell behind, particularly in math.

  • State assessments for grades 3-8 were used to analyze proficiency relative to in-state districts.

Zoom in: Dallas ISD and Houston ISD, two of the largest districts in Texas, each lost more than four months of learning in math achievement.

  • Irving and Forney are among the districts with more than a year of learning losses in math.

Yes, but: The Education Recovery Scorecard shows overall reading achievement in Texas was stable between 2019-22.

  • Black students in Texas made a 30% improvement in reading to bring the group closer to the national average.
  • Despite the advancement, 2022 reading scores for in-state Black students remain more than a year behind the national average, the data shows.

What they're saying: Parents who think their students are on par with their grade levels should review the research maps and ask teachers if current material is comparable to pre-pandemic instruction, Kane says.

  • "Parents need to know that their kids are behind and they may need to work with their school districts over the next couple of years to help their students catch up," he says.

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