The pandemic’s impact still worries K12 parents. Here’s why

"The way school went with COVID got my twins so far behind," one parent said in a new report. Which interventions can help reverse its effects?

Since the pandemic, various studies have explored its impact on K12 education, which includes widespread mental health issues among students, a decline in reading and math test scores and a number of other negative effects. For instance, attendance rates averaged 90% in November 2023, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. Just 37% of all public schools achieved attendance rates of 95% or higher. Now, K12 parents are sharing what they believe to be their top concerns for their child’s education.

New research from 95 Percent Group draws from survey responses from more than 800 parents with children ages four to 11 about the perceived changes in their children they’ve witnessed related to their academics since 2020.

Most importantly, some one-in-three parents are worried about the pandemic’s long-term impact on their kid’s education. Furthermore, 32% of parents report their child is suffering from pandemic-related learning loss. To no surprise, math, reading and English are the top three subjects students struggle with, according to parents.

Another notable finding suggests that 55% of parents whose child has a learning disability reported they were diagnosed within the last two years. These include:

  • ADHD
  • Non-verbal learning disabilities
  • Executive functioning
  • Dyslexia

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One parent featured in the report explained that she made the difficult decision to pull her twins from public school and transition to homeschooling until they could get caught up with reading.

“The way school went with COVID got my twins so far behind,” she said. “They plan on going back to public school [in 2024].”

Reading declines by state

Some areas across the U.S. saw more drastic declines in reading scores during the pandemic, the report adds. Using the latest available data from the NCES’ National Assessment of Educational Progress, the authors highlighted states with the “biggest reading score drops” (ordered from worst to best) from 2019-22, which includes:

  • Delaware (worst)
  • Virginia
  • West Virginia
  • Oklahoma
  • Oregon
  • Idaho
  • Maryland
  • Maine (best among states that saw declines)

“This post-pandemic data reinforces what we know about the extreme challenges faced during that time and how our students (and their teachers) are continuing to recover from that crisis,” 95 Percent Group Chief Academic Officer Laura Stewart said in the report. “However, it’s important to note that we have had an unacceptable number of students not learning to read adequately even before the pandemic. The challenge of all students learning to read has been with us for far too long.”

What some district leaders may find useful is parents’ feedback on how they want pandemic-related learning loss to be addressed in their child’s school. According to the data, parents ranked three interventions they believe would help:

  1. Tutoring outside of school: 53%
  2. Additional school days at the end of the school year: 23%
  3. Year-round school: 17%
Micah Ward
Micah Ward
Micah Ward is a District Administration staff writer. He recently earned his master’s degree in Journalism at the University of Alabama. He spent his time during graduate school working on his master’s thesis. He’s also a self-taught guitarist who loves playing folk-style music.

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