(The Center Square) - A new federal report shows that the nationwide shutdown of schools during the COVID-19 pandemic led to historic learning losses for students.
The Department of Education released data Thursday showing that national test scores declined the most in decades.
"Average scores for age 9 students in 2022 declined 5 points in reading and 7 points in mathematics compared to 2020," the report said. "This is the largest average score decline in reading since 1990, and the first ever score decline in mathematics. This Highlights report compares performance on the NAEP long-term trend reading and mathematics assessments for age 9 students from the winter of 2020 to results of long-term trend assessments in the winter of 2022."
The report shows that minority students were hit hardest.
"In mathematics, the 13-point score decrease among Black students compared to the 5-point decrease among White students resulted in a widening of the White?Black score gap from 25 points in 2020 to 33 points in 2022," the report said.
Many blamed the pandemic for the learning loss, but others argued the losses could have been avoided if schools had remained open.
"Utterly indefensible," said U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, after the data was released. "This is what Dem school shutdowns have done to our kids."
The report found that technology and the home learning environment was key to a students' success.
"Of the 70 percent of 9-year-olds who learned remotely during the 2020-21 school year, higher performers (those at or above the 75th percentile) had greater access to a desktop computer, laptop, or tablet all the time; a quiet place to work available some of the time; and a teacher available to help them with mathematics or reading schoolwork every day or almost every day compared to lower performers (those below the 25th percentile)," the report said.