Math and Reading Scores Drop in the Wake of the Pandemic

As reported last week by the New York Times in this article, the National Assessment of Education Progress has released data about math and reading scores nationwide, showing troubling drops in both in nearly every state. The percentage of students scoring as proficient or above fell to alarming levels, under 40% in all cases and under 30% for 8th grade math scores. Although the pandemic had a significant role in the crisis, these trends were already in process prior to 2020. Furthermore, the more disadvantaged the student, the more the potential damage, as the article states: "...for the country’s most vulnerable students, the pandemic has left them even further behind. The drops in their test scores were often more pronounced, and their climbs to proficiency are now that much more daunting."


The implications for higher education in the coming years are sobering, with students likely to arrive at college more unprepared than ever before. Institutions already struggling to support current student needs may find themselves saddled with even greater gaps to fill in the quest to help students learn, retain them, and graduate them. 


Although the changes that higher education needs to make will be neither quick nor easy, coaching can strengthen the bridge from now to where we need to go. Coaches work to bring students into the present moment, clearly lay out possible actions, and design a path that moves them forward -- however haltingly. Any student, no matter the swirl of complications and struggles, can benefit from questions like these:

  • What campus and/or course-based resources are you willing to use to improve your skills?

  • In what ways will math skills benefit you personally and professionally?

  • How do you rate yourself as a reader?

  • What strategies can you use to strengthen your reading recall and overall comprehension?

  • How will building your reading muscle help you in college and in your professional life?



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