Feb 8, 2024 - News

San Diego school math scores rebounding after pandemic

Illustration of answer bubbles on a standardized test answer sheet filled to form the shape of an upward arrow.

Illustration: Gabriella Turrisi/Axios

Elementary and middle-school students in San Diego made greater gains in math scores than many of their peers in the state, but the area is still behind, according to a recent analysis by The New York Times.

Why it matters: Students are still recouping essential learning lost from pandemic school closings, which worsened already-wide learning gaps between students from wealthy and low-income communities.

Zoom in: At San Diego Unified, the state's second-largest school district, math test scores in 2023 were higher than those of other major California school districts, per a new study by researchers at Stanford and Harvard universities.

  • The district is still below its 2019 scores and just under the U.S. average for that year — as many school districts currently are; however, it's above the U.S. and California averages for 2023.

The big picture: Nationally, from 2019 to 2022, math test scores plunged and students lost more than half a year of learning, the study suggests.

  • Students in grades 3-8 have made up ground since 2020, but they're "nowhere close to being fully caught up," the Times reported.
  • Students have made up about one-third of what they lost in math and one-quarter in reading, per the analysis.

Zoom out: California's major school districts retained their math test score rankings within the state but had significantly different performances during the pandemic.

  • Notably, Los Angeles has made an above-average recovery compared to the rest of the state.
  • Meanwhile, Long Beach saw the steepest decline in math scores.

Be smart: Use this interactive tool to see the charts on how school districts in California and across the nation compare.

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