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Oct. 21, 2022

MSU experts on the 2022 NAEP Mathematics and Reading results

The 2022 National Assessment of Educational Progress, results, also known as the Nation’s Report Card, will be announced on Monday, Oct. 24. Experts from Michigan State University’s College of Education, one of the nation’s top-ranking colleges, will be available to comment.

Here’s what they have to say about the current state of reading, math and assessment in our country.

“Research studies have repeatedly shown that literacy instruction is not equitable. We need continued attention to research-based, literacy instruction to ensure that all children in every classroom learn to read and write.” 

Tanya S. Wright 
Associate Professor of Language and Literacy
Michigan State University, College of Education

“In Michigan, as in most states, benchmark assessment scores show that students have made some progress since the spring of 2019, but learning growth has slowed over the course of the pandemic. Importantly, the pandemic has impacted historically marginalized students the most, as they live in communities that were hardest hit by the economic and health consequences of the virus and attended districts that offered remote instruction for longer during the 2020-21 school year. It is not surprising, then, that results from the ELA M-STEP suggest that many more third grade students are reading substantially below grade level than prior to the pandemic.

“None of this is new news. Rather than dwelling on what happened over the last two years — which was terrible for students across the country — we should focus our efforts on recovery, especially for students who were the most impacted by COVID-19 pandemic.”

Katharine Strunk
Clifford E. Erickson Distinguished Professor of Education Policy
Faculty Director, Michigan State University’s Education Policy Innovation Collaborative

“We learned a little while ago that nationwide, student achievement dropped precipitously during the pandemic in both math and reading. The former was the first reduction in National Assessment of Educational Progress scores since testing began in the 1970s. Educators have been very concerned that among disadvantaged groups the effects may be considerably worse, and we get our first nationwide evidence on the extent of any such disparities on Monday, Oct. 24. Whether these are large or small, we already know that students have suffered nationwide from the pandemic and without substantial investment over the next few years to reverse this interrupted learning, the generational damage could be sizable.”

Scott Imberman
Professor of Education Policy
Michigan State University, College of Education

“Regardless of where a given state has ended up on the newest NAEP rankings the results are clear: A once-in-generation pandemic requires an equally generational investment in public education — including not just academics but school infrastructure and wrap-around supports like childcare and mental health support.”

Joshua M. Cowen
Professor of Education Policy
Michigan State University, College of Education

“Obviously, the mathematics results reflect the impact the Coronavirus pandemic had on the education of the nation's children as a whole. The results also show the varying impact this has had on children from different social classes. Recent research, based on a random sample of U.S. schools, showed that almost one-third of the inequality in mathematics performance was contributed not by home and family background but by the indirect effect of social class through its relationship to the distribution of opportunities to learn mathematics as provided by the schools. Now imagine that scenario played out in the pandemic environment in which the whole nature of how opportunity to learn was delivered.”

William Schmidt
University Distinguished Professor
Director, Center for the Study of Curriculum Policy
Michigan State University, College of Education

“Headlines such as ‘math and reading scores for fourth and eighth graders have declined as a result of the pandemic’ miss the mark in that students were learning and developing new and different strengths during the pandemic. As Rachel Gabriel writes in the Washington Post, students ‘learn about inequality when they see some districts open in person and others not, some people vaccinated and others not. They learn that the world still assumes all children live with their parents, and that it is safe to do so.’ Quality math instruction can and should draw on these and other life experiences of students. Students’ experiences and local contexts can serve as a powerful way to increase student engagement and motivation to learn mathematics. These contexts help students to learn about themselves and the world around them. They also help students to learn mathematics, by providing them with opportunities to observe patterns, to critique information, to learn to ask questions and to reflect. In doing so, students learn more mathematics.

“Tests do not tell us all what students know. In the context of COVID, students now know and can do a lot of things they didn’t before that will not be captured well in a test. The challenges highlight the need to rethink what and how we might capture the strengths of students emerging from this difficult time. Anyone developing standardized tests needs to focus on designing a test that’s helpful and more encompassing toward measuring what students can do to enable educators to build on students’ strengths.”

The above is a joint statement from:

Sandra Crespo
Professor of Mathematics Education
Associate Chairperson for Graduate Education in the Department of Teacher Education 
Michigan State University, College of Education

Beth Herbel-Eisenmann
Professor of Teacher Education, Mathematics
Michigan State University, College of Education

Tonya Bartell
Associate Director of Elementary Programs
Associate Professor of Teacher Education
Michigan State University, College of Education

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