U.S. math scores take a hit in global assessment. But there’s good news

Some countries suffered the equivalent of one year of learning loss in math in 2022, a new global report suggests. How did our students fare?

Across the globe, learning gaps were one of the most common products of the pandemic as many students forced to partake in remote learning had little capability to do so due to technological barriers. Now, we’re coming to learn while most industrialized countries recorded setbacks in reading and math, U.S. students saw notable declines in the latter subject.

That’s according to the latest snapshot of global education in the Program for International Student Assessment, the first of its kind to analyze the academic profile of students in dozens of countries during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The PISA test, administered in 2022, sampled 15-year-olds in 37 countries that are all members of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, in addition to 44 other partnering nations.

There’s been an “unprecedented drop in performance” as average international math scores suffered the equivalent of some three-fourths of a year of learning, and another half a year for reading, the report found.

Countries like Germany and the Netherlands witnessed steep 20-plus point declines in math scores, which equates to about one year of learning.

As for the U.S., math scores seemed to be the area in which students were impacted the most. The data suggests a 13-point dip since 2018. For perspective, the average math score among all participating countries fell by nearly 15 points.

More from DA: Rankings: Virginia has the highest high school graduation rates in the country

Yet, America’s test scores reveal a glimmer of hope as students proved to have performed better than several participating countries post-pandemic. The good news: reading and science scores remained relatively even.

According to the researchers’ comparison, the U.S. moved up to No. 26 in math, which is up three spots from 2018. It ranked No. 6 for reading and No. 10 in science, a two and one spot bump, respectively.

“The whole world is struggling with math, and we are not immune from that,” said Peggy Carr, head of the National Center for Education Statistics, which administers the exam. “Everyone had struggles during the pandemic. What we’re seeing here is we had less.”

These findings ought to be familiar as educators are still processing the results of last year’s Nation’s Report Card administered by the National Assessment of Education Progress, which also uncovered a historic drop in U.S. math scores among 4th- and 8th-graders.

“The results … underscore the importance of instruction and the role of schools in both students’ academic growth and their overall well-being,” Carr said at the time. “It’s clear we all need to come together—policymakers and community leaders at every level—as partners in helping our educators, children and families succeed.”

Micah Ward
Micah Wardhttps://districtadministration.com
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.

Most Popular