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WSIPP receives funding from the legislature to conduct research on K-12 education topics that are relevant in Washington. In this report, we examine academic achievement among public school students in Washington during the COVID-19 pandemic. First, we estimate how student math and English Language Arts (ELA) achievement changed during the pandemic. Next, we predict long-term effects on future earnings, and finally, we discuss several interventions that may help students recover academically.
Overall, we found that average test scores in the 2022 school year were 0.20 standard deviations (SD) lower than average test scores before the pandemic. We observed larger declines in math test scores than ELA scores, and we estimated the largest effect in middle school grades, though effects in elementary and high school grades are also notable. Further, we found larger test score declines among female students, students of color, and low-income students compared to their male, White, Asian, and economically advantaged peers.
We estimate that a 0.20 SD decline in test scores is associated with an average $32,000 decrease in future earnings per student compared to students before the pandemic. Finally, we reviewed the impact of interventions like tutoring, academically-focused summer school programs, and double-dose classes on student achievement. We estimate that on average, these programs increase test scores between 0.03 and 0.39 SD. These interventions may help offset the decline in scores we observe and help students recover academically in the post-pandemic period.