A sweeping new review of national test data suggests the pandemic-driven jump to online learning has had little impact on children's reading growth and has only somewhat slowed gains in math. That positive news comes from the testing nonprofit NWEA and covers nearly 4.4 million U.S. students in grades three through eight. But the report also includes a worrying caveat: Many of the nation's most vulnerable students are missing from the data.
"Preliminary fall data suggests that, on average, students are faring better than we had feared," says Beth Tarasawa, head of research at NWEA, in a news release accompanying the report.
"While there's some good news here, we want to stress that not all students are represented in the data, especially from our most marginalized communities."
Until now, estimates of learning loss have been just that — estimates or projections, based on the kind of academic backsliding schools see after a long summer. This report offers the clearest picture yet of the impact that the past eight months of disruption have had on student learning.