Nov 2, 2022 - News

North Carolina schools recovering from pandemic learning loss

Illustration of a calculator with downward arrows flashing on the screen.

Illustration: Allie Carl/Axios

Students in North Carolina public schools lost the equivalent of six months of learning in math and more than four months in reading during the pandemic, according to a new report from researchers at Harvard and Stanford universities.

  • Fourth and eighth grade students in North Carolina clocked in the lowest average test scores on reading and math in more than 20 years, according to the National Assessment of Educational Progress.

Why it matters: The pandemic pushed schools into remote learning, forcing students and teachers to rely on new forms of communication and education.

  • Now, educators and policymakers are grappling with what the sudden change means for students and their long-term outlooks. Some experts say it could take until 2028 for scores to recover.
  • Many incoming college students are already struggling, the New York Times reported.

State of play: Triangle-area schools saw smaller losses in learning than other parts of the state, according to the study.

  • Children at Wake County Schools, the largest system in the state, lost around four months in math and three months in reading.
  • Durham Public Schools saw around a six-month decline in math and around four months in reading.

The learning losses were not distributed evenly, according to the report, which was written by Center for Education Policy Research at Harvard and Stanford's Educational Opportunity Project.

  • Students at Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools, for example, lost nearly a year's worth of learning in math, while Johnston County Public Schools lost only around three months in math and saw no change in reading learning, the study found.

The big picture: North Carolina’s dropoffs are roughly in line with the learning declines seen nationwide, according to the report.

  • Researchers found large disparities between schools depending on income levels of students.

Read the report here.


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