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COVID: Study Shows Pandemic Slowed Reading Progress

A new study adds to the mounting evidence of lost learning due to school closures during the coronavirus pandemic, with the ability of students in early grades to read aloud quickly and accurately about 30 percent lower than normal over the past year.

The research released Tuesday by Policy Analysis for California Education, an independent research center based at Stanford University, examined 250,000 oral reading fluency scores for students in first through third grade last spring and fall in over 100 school districts across 22 states.

The new research comes amid growing pressure from many parents and public officials to reopen public schools that have largely or entirely taught classes online over the past year, citing evidence that shows students can return to class safely with simple measures such as face masks and student spacing.

Despite improvements in online “distance learning,” they point to studies by PACE and others showing students are falling behind and suffering emotionally from prolonged isolation.

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