Playing COVID Catch Up: Why Math Scores Have Been Impacted and What You Can Do

Math scores impacted by COVID

If you feel like your child’s math skills have declined these past 2 years, you’re not alone. For students, the focus of the classroom was replaced with household hustle and bustle. It was difficult enough for parents to find a quiet place to take a Zoom call—how could we expect our children to truly focus on and absorb their math lessons with everything that goes on at home?

It turns out that it wasn’t just your home—the COVID skill slide is a real phenomenon. In July, McKinsey & Company released a report that estimated the pandemic had left US K-12 students on average 5 months behind in their math skills. Likewise, the Northwest Evaluation Association issued their own report, emphasizing that students in grades 3-8 performed 5-10 points lower in 2021 than they had in 2019.

Math Growth Achievement Percentiles in math by grade level in fall 2019 and fall 2020 NWEA research

The above chart illustrates the performance gap in math for students in grades 3-8 in 2019 vs. 2020. NWEA Research, Learning during COVID-19: Initial findings on students’ reading and math achievement and growth, November 2020.

The Research

It’s incredibly alarming, as the impact of skill loss or unfinished learning may have a generational impact on student abilities to access higher education and ultimately provide for themselves and their future families.

In fact, multiple studies have shown that falling behind in math has a cascading effect in future education and career success:

In a study between Johns Hopkins University and the Philadelphia Education Fund, evaluators found that 81% of students who failed a math course failed to graduate high school.

Additionally, in a 2008 study, American College Testing found that 8th grade is the “deadline” for children to receive relevant math education for success in college and beyond.

And finally, both the Public Policy Institute of California and McKinsey & Co have discovered that stronger math skills are linked to better health, better income earnings, and greater political participation.

Closing the Learning Gap

With potential learning pitfalls looming, it’s no surprise that many parents are concerned that their children are returning to school with a long road of catch up ahead. And the rollercoaster ride isn’t over. While many school districts are cautiously returning to a normal schedule, health officials are worried about COVID variants, while educators work hard to close the learning gap 2020 left for students in general.

At Juni, our commitment to personalized learning has always been about connecting classroom learning to real-life skills, and using those lessons as a way to develop personal passions. So no matter your child’s grade or math level, Juni’s courses will cover their skill gap with personalized, 1:1 learning so you can be confident that your child will continue to grow and recover any skills they may have lost in this past year.

Want to know how Juni can help? Read more about our online math courses, or speak with a Juni Advisor by calling (650) 263-4306 or emailing

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