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The Two Graphs That Say It All: Covid-19 Educational Impact on Communities of Color

Updated: Nov 21, 2021

In June 2021, NWEA (Northwest Evaluation Association), a not-for-profit organization that provides assessment solutions and educational research, released a report, Understanding the Initial Educational Impacts of Covid-19 on Communities of Color. In the report, researchers focused on the pandemic impact on Black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC) students. They analyzed data from 2.1 million BIPOC students in grades 3 to 8 who took the MAP Growth assessments(1) in reading and math. Pro- and pre-pandemic results are compared to measure how the pandemic has changed students’ learning, and I think the two graphs (2) below say it all.

The key findings:

  • Math achievement was significantly impacted in fall 2020 but reading achievement was mostly parallel to prior years.

  • BIPOC students’ math decline was most obvious for students who were in 4th, 5th, and 6th grade in fall 2020.

  • Black, American Indian and Alaska Native, and Latinx students made 55-68% of typical learning gains in math and 73-86% of typical gains in reading during the pandemic, whereas Asian American students made between 88-100% of their typical gains in the two subjects.

  • Male BIPOC students and BIPOC students attending high-poverty schools were the least likely to achieve typical learning gains during the pandemic.

The report also provides policy recommendations to recover Covid-19 learning loss for BIPOC students. These include:

  • Improve remote learning for BIPOC students

  • Extend learning time for BIPOC students (including summer programs, additional instruction time, and high-quality tutoring)

  • Target federal resources to BIPOC students

  • Address BIPOC students’ academic, social, and emotional needs

This study is not without its limitations but nonetheless provides great insight into the pandemic impact on these subgroups of students.

(1) MAP Growth assessment is a computer adaptive assessment—meaning that the difficulty of questions adjusts throughout the assessment based on the student's responses. MAP Growth assessments provide a scaled score referred to as the RIT score, which is a measurement that quantifies a student's academic performance.

(2) Graph source:

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