Federal test scores show significant pandemic-related drops in reading and math

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MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- A new federal study confirms what educators say they're seeing in classrooms: reading and math scores are down for the first time in decades because of the Coronavirus pandemic.

The drops are significant, even if they're unsurprising. Reading scores for 9-year-olds saw their biggest drop in 30 years. Math scores dropped for the first time ever since this testing began.

Derek Pipkorn is the owner of four Milwaukee-Area Mathnasium locations. He said, "Kids are coming in frustrated. The worst part we see is the confidence. The confidence is just lower."

Pipkorn says he and his Mathnasium instructors knew this was coming.

After two years of pandemic-impacted learning, much of which was spent learning at home, millions of students in every region of the country have fallen behind in reading and math.

Pipkorn said, "I think parents thought 'Oh, we're in school now, we're fine.' But they really weren't. And we knew this was going to catch up to them eventually."

Pipkorn says families see the gap and are enrolling their children to try and close it.

Last summer, his four locations enrolled 80-90 students. But this summer is the busiest they've ever had with more than 220 students.

Pipkorn said, "A lot of them are trying to play catch-up. We're seeing it. We have kids coming in a year or more behind."

He says every new school year starts with some review to combat summer learning loss, but now a devastating COVID learning loss is compounding the problems. "The last thing we want is COVID to create a bunch of kids who hate math."

Pipkorn says his staff's one-on-one instruction with students is the same as before, they're just starting at a lower level than they usually do.

And an important part of the process is letting students and parents know it's ok, that they're not the only ones going through this and trying to catch up.

Pipkorn said, "These kids who are two years behind or more, and there are a lot of them, it's going to take them at least a year-plus to get them caught up. So it's just a change in the way we speak to parents, but the way we do things really hasn't changed."

  • More information will be released later this year as part of the National Assessment of Educational Progress, also known as the Nation's Report Card.
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