Post COVID-19 Test Score Recovery: Initial Evidence from State Testing Data

Discussion Paper

Clare Halloran, Claire E. Hug, Rebecca Jack, and Emily Oster

April 2023

The COVID-19 pandemic caused significant disruption in schooling in the U.S., and student test scores showed dramatic declines by the end of the 2020-21 school year. The authors use state test score data to analyze patterns of test score recovery over the 2021-22 school year. On average, the authors find that 20% of test score losses are recovered in English language arts (ELA) by 2022, compared to 37% in math. These recovery rates do not significantly vary across demographic characteristics, baseline achievement rates, in-person schooling rates in the pandemic school year, or category-based measures of recovery funding allocations. The authors observe large state-level variation in recovery rates in ELA – from full recovery to further losses. This evidence suggests state-level factors play an important role in students’ academic recovery, but we are unable to isolate particular state factors. Future work should focus on this variation to facilitate a broader recovery effort.