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Report: Students have not recovered academically from pandemic disruptions

Schools still seeing learning loss after $190B pandemic aid

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Students have not recovered from the academic losses suffered during the pandemic despite a massive infusion of funding from the federal government, a new report says.

In March 2020, Congress passed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, known as the CARES Act.

The first stimulus packages stemming from the CARES Act earmarked $13.2 billion specifically for the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund, or ESSER.

Over the next year, an unprecedented $176.8 billion additional dollars would be infused into the fund; the money is to be used by 2024 and was earmarked to help struggling schools and students across the country recover from the negative effects of the pandemic on education. Indianapolis Public Schools received $213.5 million.

According to the latest Nation’s Report Card, much improvement is still needed to catch up to pre-pandemic academic performance.

The report indicates the national average test scores for 13-year-olds dropped four points in reading and nine points in mathematics during the 2022-2023 school year when compared to pre-pandemic levels.

According to the National Assessment of Educational Progress, this is the lowest math score for the age group since 1990 and the lowest reading score since 2004. Compared to a decade ago, these scores are down seven and 14 points, respectively.

Declines were seen in every percentile in reading, although there were slight discrepancies. Middle and higher-performing students declined three to four points. Lower-performing students saw a greater decline of six to seven points.

The discrepancies were much more apparent in mathematics. Higher-performing students declined in proficiency by six to eight points. As far as middle to lower-performing students, the drop was between 12 to 14 points.

The students also reported a drop in daily leisure reading.

According to the report card, 14% of students reported reading for fun almost every day. That is a drop of 3 points since 2020 and a whopping 13 percentage points lower than 2012.

The report also notes that students who reported they were read for fun almost daily had higher reading performance scores on average.

According to a recent CNN report, the lack of academic recovery is caused by several factors, including schools not using all of the funds to specifically target learning loss and staffing shortages.

IPS laid out its agenda for spending the money in a 3-part plan. The first infusion was focused on student learning. The second targeted IT infrastructure for modern learning. The third tackled operational costs.