Two decades of growth for American students in reading and math were wiped away by just two years of pandemic-disrupted learning, according to national test scores released this morning.

Dismal releases from the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) — often referred to as the “nation’s report card” — have become a biannual tradition in recent years as academic progress first stalled, then eroded for both fourth and eighth graders. But today’s publication, tracking long-term academic trends for nine-year-olds from the 1970s to the present, includes the first federal assessment of how learning was affected by COVID-19.

The picture it offers is bleak. In a special data collection combining scores from early 2020, just before schools began to close, with additional results from the winter of 2022, the report shows average long-term math performance falling for the first time ever; in reading, scores saw the biggest drop in 30 years. And in another familiar development, the declines were much larger for students at lower performance levels, widening already-huge learning disparities between the country’s high- and low-achievers.

The results somewhat mirror last fall’s release of scores for 13-year-olds, which also revealed unprecedented learning reversals on the long-term exam. But that data was only collected through the fall of 2019; the latest evidence shows further harm sustained by younger students in the following years.

Read the full article about losses in math and reading by Kevin Mahnken at The 74.