Sep 2, 2022 - News

Big drop in D.C. student test scores during pandemic

Change in D.C. students proficient in English language arts and math
Data: D.C. Office of the State Superintendent of Education; Chart: Simran Parwani/Axios

D.C. public school students’ scores in math and reading dropped significantly between 2019 and 2022, with the learning losses most pronounced among Black, Hispanic and at-risk students.

Why it matters: The scores — which mirror a national trend — show the negative impact the pandemic has had on student achievement.

The big picture: The assessments in math and reading/writing were taken by students in grades 3-12. Reading/writing proficiency dropped across all grades, but it was math proficiency that took the biggest hit.

By the numbers:

  • Only 19% of kids were proficient in math this year, down from 31% in 2019.
  • Thirty-one percent were proficient in reading/writing, down from 37% in 2019.

Zoom in: Disparities were particularly pronounced among students of color and at-risk students.

  • Black and Hispanic/Latino students saw the largest declines in reading/writing proficiency.
  • Math proficiency dropped by more than 10 percentage points across most race/ethnicity groups.
  • At-risk students’ reading/writing scores declined by 6 percentage points, compared with a drop of 4.2 percentage points for non-at-risk students. In math, the drop for at-risk students was 10.2 percentage points and 9.8 percentage points for non-at-risk students.

Zoom out: Nationally, elementary test scores in reading and math among public and private school students plummeted during the pandemic.

What’s next: D.C.’s state superintendent has launched an effort to reverse the trend, using $1 billion in federal stimulus funds.

  • As part of the effort, a tutoring program that served nearly 2,200 students last school year is expected to be offered to 4,000 this year.
  • Officials are also planning to launch a Family Resource Center for students with disabilities.

Get more local stories in your inbox with Axios Washington D.C..


Support local journalism by becoming a member.

Learn more

More Washington D.C. stories

No stories could be found

Washington D.C.postcard

Get a free daily digest of the most important news in your backyard with Axios Washington D.C..


Support local journalism by becoming a member.

Learn more