Reversing Math Loss for the “COVID” Generation

Feb 11, 2021 | Gilbert

It goes without saying that the pandemic has disrupted every aspect of our lives — from the way we live, to how we interact, to the way we work and play. And as most parents of school-aged kids are well aware, it has also greatly impacted our children’s education. How students learn and teachers teach have changed dramatically since COVID emerged around the globe. Instead of teachers providing consistent in-person instruction to children in a classroom, a majority of schools transitioned to online learning – which proved to be challenging for a great many kids. Students had to learn to balance the distractions of home life with daily instruction and completing assignments. And many students faced physical, psychological and economic effects of the pandemic that further impacted their ability to learn.

It’s not always easy for teachers to connect with and cater to the individual needs of every student under normal circumstances. But during these extraordinary times, the task is made even more difficult, regardless of whether kids are in an online-only, hybrid, or classroom setting with desks separated by Plexiglas. And it’s far more challenging for students to feel connected to their teachers in this environment as well.

The Consequences of COVID: A Significant Reduction in Math Proficiency

Recent studies have shown COVID’s negative impact on many aspects of our children’s education. But one subject stands out above the rest when it comes to the effect on achievement and growth: math.

Renaissance Learning, a global leader in research, assessment and learning analytics, recently released a study illuminating the negative impact of COVID on education. The study drew upon a sample of more than 1 million students in grades 1-8 from all 50 states, plus Washington D.C., who took Star Early Literacy, Star Reading or Star Math assessments during both fall 2019 and fall 2020. Using historical growth norms drawn from recent pre-COVID years, Renaissance established reasonable estimations of how each student would have been expected to perform in fall 2020 had the pandemic not struck.

The findings are dramatic and substantial when it comes to math achievement:

  • Multi-Tiered System of Support (MTSS), which many schools utilize to identify and support struggling students, revealed a greater percentage of kids in higher risk categories in 2020 (needing “urgent invention”, “intervention” and “on watch”) than in 2019.
  • The Student Growth Percentile (SGP) in math, which compares a student’s growth from one period to another with academic peers nationwide, showed a -15 difference from 2019-2020. This means the growth of students’ overall math progress regressed significantly in 2020.
  • For math, all grades showed students were performing behind expectations. The average child in some grade levels was found to be 12 weeks behind expectations in math.


To put it succinctly, the study indicates that academic performance in math is measurably lower in 2020 than it would have been in a normal, non-COVID environment. The magnitude of the impact varies by grade, school and student, but as stated in the findings above, but it may take students up to 12 weeks or more to catch up to normal performance levels. Bear in mind that this catch-up in math is in addition to covering a regular set of grade-level materials. Also consider the fact that once students fall behind in math, it is oftentimes very difficult to catch up under normal circumstances. Of course the task is made even more challenging in the middle of a global pandemic.

Renaissance estimates that more students will need intervention or other additional support beyond their normal classroom instruction in order to catch up to grade-level standards. Because so many students across the board are falling behind in math, they also suggest that “additional strain will be placed on school intervention resources, which may be more challenged than ever in 2020-2021.”

It’s a lot to think about, especially when so many other aspects of life have been disrupted by the pandemic. So what is a parent to do?

Join the Thousands of Parents Doing Something About Math Learning Loss

While it’s true that students are facing unique challenges with learning and progressing in math, teachers are also experiencing their own set of challenges. It’s difficult enough to offer individual instruction to a classroom full of kids during normal times. But it’s an entirely different thing to help students make up for learning loss during a global pandemic.

That’s where Mathnasium comes in.

The most effective way to eliminate math learning loss is with real-time, face-to-face instruction. And that’s exactly what students get when they learn math through Mathnasium, either in-center or online through Mathnasium@home.

Mathnasium’s customized learning plans are proven to improve grades and help students catch up, keep up, and stay ahead. Our expert instructors start by pinpointing each individual child’s learning needs through a personalized assessment, before developing a roadmap that’s unique to each student. The Mathnasium Method™ of teaching helps students understand concepts faster and easier than a “one-size-fits-all” curriculum. And as many Mathnasium kids will attest, it can also make learning math fun.

Thousands of parents are already turning to Mathnasium to reverse math learning loss for their children. It’s the right choice during normal circumstances, but it’s especially crucial during the extraordinary times in which we are living now.

To learn more about eliminating math learning loss or to receive a free assessment, contact us!