Colorado students saw decline in math scores in first ‘nation’s report card’ analysis since pandemic began

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Posted at 5:13 PM, Oct 24, 2022
and last updated 2022-10-24 19:13:12-04

DENVER – Fourth and eighth graders in Colorado experienced a steep decline in math scores, mirroring much of the U.S. since the coronavirus pandemic began, according to a national test more commonly referred to as the “nation’s report card.”

The National Assessment of Education Progress exams, or NAEP, show scores in reading and math for Colorado’s fourth and eighth graders dropped from pre-pandemic levels measured in 2019.

In 2022, reading test scores for both fourth and eighth graders in Colorado declined by two and four points from results in 2019. Math test scores declined by six and ten points since the last administration of the NAEP exams.

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In a news release Monday, officials with the Colorado Department of Education (CDE) said it wasn’t just Colorado students being affected by learning loss during the onset of the pandemic.

“The national average score declines in mathematics were the largest ever recorded in that subject,” they wrote.

Nationally, math scores showed only 26% of eighth graders were proficient in math, compared with 34% in 2019. Thirty-six percent of fourth graders were proficient in math, compared with 41% in 2019, the results showed.

“The decline in academic performance throughout the country is terribly concerning but is not unexpected due to the challenges from the pandemic,” said Colorado Education Commissioner Katy Anthes. “However, we see glimmers of hope in the fact that Colorado students are already showing improvement on our state-level tests from 2021.”

Anthes noted the department is also being “buoyed” by COVID-19 relief funds targeted to address the loss of learning during the first two years of the pandemic.

Despite the drops in scores, however, Colorado students scored higher than the national average, according to the report, which mirrored the results from the state’s Measures of Academic Success exams, or CMAS, in 2022.

Back in Aug., the CMAS scores showed Colorado students showed improvements over 2021 for most grades in math and English Language Arts (ELA), but those scores were still below 2019 levels in almost every grade level and subject area.

One of the biggest surprises of the CMAS was that third graders met or exceeded expectations in English at nearly the same level they did prior to the pandemic, with only a 0.6% drop in 2022 compared to 2019.

More Colorado students who tested in math also met or exceeded expectations this spring than they did in 2021, scoring between 2.2% and 2.9% higher in the spring than they did last year.

A summary of the CMAS results showed that achievement gaps between historically lower performing and historically high performing groups continued to persist in the spring of 2022, with Black students participating at lower rates than students from other racial/ethnic backgrounds.