Given the disruptions of the pandemic, the drop in math was expected, said Peggy Carr, commissioner for the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), which administers the Nation’s Report Card .

“We really need the teachers to teach math,” she said. “Reading, on the other hand, is something that parents and communities are more comfortable helping students with.”

While reading scores stayed more steady – dipping only about 3 points in both grade levels compared to 2019 – reading proficiency has been trending down in the past couple cycles.

“Nothing [in the math and reading scores] should be surprising to anyone,” says Karyn Lewis, who researches K-12 assessments at the Center for School and Student Progress at NWEA, a nonprofit that works in standardized testing.

“This corroborates what we have seen in our research and what we’ve seen from peers that are doing similar work.”

She hopes states will use this new data to target areas for future investment, rather than dwell on the losses.

“I fear that this just encourages us to keep looking backwards when I would really like to see people continue to look forward.”

She says it’s time to “quit fighting battles back from 2020” and instead put that energy toward helping students recover.

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