Pandemic Cited as Student Math Scores Plummet

Pandemic Cited as Student Math Scores Plummet
A chart showing student math proficiency in the U.S. (Arkansas Business)

Average math scores for U.S. students have plunged, according to the National Assessment of Educational Progress, known as the nation’s report card.

The first test results since the COVID-19 pandemic began in March 2020 showed that 26% of eighth graders nationwide were proficient in math, down from 34% in 2019, the worst result since 2000.

Among fourth graders, 36% were proficient in math compared with 41% in 2019. In Arkansas, the results were even worse. Only 19% of Arkansas eighth graders tested were proficient in math, and only 28% of fourth graders were proficient.

The results were released Oct. 24 by the U.S. Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics. “The results show the profound toll on student learning during the pandemic, as the size and scope of the declines are the largest ever in mathematics,” NCES Commissioner Peggy G. Carr said in a statement.

Daniel J. McGrath, acting as NCES associate commissioner for assessment, warned of possible long-term effects. “Eighth grade is a pivotal moment in students’ mathematics education ...,” he said. “If left unaddressed, this could alter the trajectories and life opportunities of a whole cohort of young people, potentially reducing their abilities to pursue rewarding and productive careers in mathematics, science, and technology.”