North Dakota 4th graders lost less ground than Minnesota’s

It’s no secret that student learning loss over these past couple of years has been significant. With the release of test scores on the 2022 reading and math National Association of Educational Progress (NAEP) assessments, the numbers are being dug into to determine next steps and speculate about the short-term and long-term impacts such declines in literacy and numeracy could have on students.

In North Dakota, fourth graders experienced significantly less reading and math declines from 2019 scores compared to their Minnesota neighbors — dropping 3 points in each compared to Minnesota dropping 7 points and 9 points.

North Dakota eighth graders also lost less ground in math (dropping 8 points) compared to Minnesota eighth graders (dropping 11 points), but North Dakota is among five states (the others being Oregon, Maine, Iowa, and Montana) in which eighth-grade math scores are now lower than they were 32 years ago. (Minnesota eighth-grade math scores are the lowest they have been in 30 years.) In eighth-grade reading, North Dakota students experienced a 5-point decline compared to Minnesota eighth graders’ average score declining 4 points.

For the 2020-2021 school year, 66 percent of students in North Dakota were in districts that offered very high levels of in-person instruction. According to The Center Square, North Dakota schools were only closed for nine weeks. Compare that to Minnesota, where only 4 percent of students were in districts that offered very high levels of in-person instruction.

Work remains, State School Superintendent Kirsten Baesler said in a news release reported on by the The Center Square. “We expected declines, given the disruption everyone experienced during the pandemic, but that doesn’t make these results easier to see. We must work diligently to take the necessary steps to help all students, across all grades, to achieve. This is a time to focus not just on recovery but on progress.”

As of reported data from October 31, many North Dakota districts are still working on spending the third round of federal relief aid (ESSER III). At least 20 percent is required to be directed toward addressing learning loss.