Blog Post

Insight: Pandemic Learning Loss: Diving Deeper into the Data

By: Andrea Thomas Brandley

Note: The opinions expressed are those of the author alone and do not reflect an institutional position of the Gardner Institute. We hope the opinions shared contribute to the marketplace of ideas and help people as they formulate their own INFORMED DECISIONS™

Since March 2020 when Utah K-12 students were sent home from school, concerns about learning loss have been top of mind for teachers, parents, and community members statewide. Education impacts so many lifelong outcomes that fears about students falling behind extend far beyond education outcomes alone. Utah’s students are Utah’s future. They will be our teachers, doctors, business owners, political leaders, parents, and community members. Ensuring their success may well be the best way to ensure that Utah’s economy and community life continue to thrive for many years to come.

National Assessment of Education Progress (NAEP) results released this fall show widespread learning loss nationwide.[i] On average, U.S. public school students in grades 3–8 lost the equivalent of a half year of learning in math and a quarter of a year in reading. Relative to other states, Utah students fared better. While Utah saw statistically significant declines in 4th grade math and reading, Utah showed no significant change in 8th grade math and reading. Utah was the only state in the nation where the eighth-grade math declines were not statistically significant. No states saw statistically sig