Bay Area students follow state, national trends of severe pandemic learning loss

ByTim Johns KGO logo
Wednesday, October 26, 2022
Experts say this is needed to fix extensive pandemic learning loss
Fifth graders reading at first grade levels? New statewide and national data shows that when it comes to our COVID report card, many are receiving a failing grade.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- More than two years after the pandemic began, its impact on student learning is finally beginning to be understood.

New statewide and national data released Monday shows that when it comes to our COVID report card, many are receiving a failing grade.

RELATED: Test scores show historic COVID setbacks for kids across US

"We have fifth graders that we're working with that are going to be in middle school next year, who are assessing at reading and math at first and second grade levels right now," said Jim Wambach of Children Rising.

Nationally, math scores saw their largest decreases ever, and reading scores dropped to levels last seen in 1992.

Here in the Bay Area, students also suffered with declines seen broadly across different subject areas.

"Time is short. And we need to have the kids get the assistance they need to catch up as quickly as possible," Wambach said.

The results come as no surprise to some parents.

EXCLUSIVE VIDEO: CA Superintendent Tony Thurmond addresses declining student test scores

The eagerly-awaited results of California's first standardized test scores since the COVID-19 pandemic came out on Monday.

Cyn Wang has a child in the San Francisco Unified School District.

She says she saw the decline in her daughter's learning and thinks schools should have reopened sooner.

California ranked in the middle of the pack when it came to U.S. learning levels, according to the latest data.

"I don't think it was even possible for the teacher to assess where they were because it was often just multiple kids just talking at the same time, being unable to hear the teacher," Wang said.

Despite the widespread learning loss, some students were hit harder than others - increasing gaps that existed before the pandemic.

MORE: SF students reveal emotional, educational impact of pandemic in the last 2 years

Those discrepancies especially obviously among those from disadvantaged backgrounds.

"Those communities, Black and Brown communities - I would argue, we would argue, actually the data supports - have been underinvested in and often are working in circumstances that are not ideal," said Dr. Christopher Nellum of The Education Trust-West.

Most experts agree that in order to fix the problem, more investment and specialized teaching will be important.

Otherwise, we run the risk of having pandemic learning loss haunt us for years to come.

"They won't have the skills they need to be contributing members to society," Wambach said.

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