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Administrators Report Roughly Half of Public School Students Began 2022-23 School Year Behind Grade Level in At Least One Academic Subject

February 9, 2023

Fifty-nine percent of public schools are using tailored accelerated instructional strategies to support their students' learning recovery

In July 2023, NCES revised estimates from the January 2022 through December 2022 collections of the School Pulse Panel (SPP), based on a reweighting of the data. Revised estimates appear on the SPP dashboard (https://ies.ed.gov/schoolsurvey/spp/). For a description of the reweighting of the data and its effect on the estimates, please visit https://ies.ed.gov/schoolsurvey/spp/ReweightingMemo.pdf. If you have further questions about these revised estimates, email schoolpulsepanel@ed.gov.

WASHINGTON (February 9, 2023)—Public school leaders estimated that about half—49 percent—of their students began the 2022-23 year behind grade level in at least one academic subject, according to data released today by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), the statistical center within the U.S. Department of Education's Institute of Education Sciences (IES). Almost all public schools with students behind grade level in at least one academic subject reported that at least some students were behind grade level in English or mathematics.

“Many students were behind grade level at the start of the current academic year, including in core academic subjects like English and mathematics,” said NCES Commissioner Peggy G. Carr. “Both this school year and last school year, public school leaders estimated that about half of their students began the school year behind grade level in at least one academic subject. These data suggest that academic recovery will take time. Additional data show that public schools are employing a combination of learning recovery strategies to help students get back on track.”

Public schools have implemented a wide variety of learning recovery strategies as of December 2022, when the data were collected. Most public schools have relied on diagnostic (88 percent) and formative (85 percent) assessment data to identify individual students’ academic needs, and 82 percent of public schools have used remedial instruction techniques (i.e., using content from prior years to teach concepts or skills). Over half (59 percent) of public schools have used tailored accelerated instruction (i.e., teacher-led individualized learning using new, grade-level content to teach prior-grade concepts or skills).

In addition to the strategies mentioned above, most public schools provide some type of tutoring to their students (83 percent). Thirty-seven percent of public schools offer high-dosage tutoring (HDT). Among these schools, 41 percent report that more of their students are receiving HDT this year than did during the previous school year. In addition to HDT, schools are offering other types of tutoring, including standard tutoring (59 percent) and self-paced tutoring (21 percent).

“The School Pulse Panel is an innovative and valuable tool in understanding how the pandemic has affected the condition of education,” said IES Director Mark Schneider. “NCES and IES are committed to collecting high quality data to inform education policy and improve practices in support of learning recovery.”

The findings released today are from the School Pulse Panel. The School Pulse Panel is part of NCES’s innovative approach to delivering timely information regarding the COVID-19 pandemic’s impact on public K–12 schools in the U.S. on topics such as learning recovery, tutoring offerings, learning mode offerings, and quarantine prevalence, as reported by school staff in U.S. public schools. Data from this round were collected from 1,026 participating public schools between December 8 and December 22, 2022.

This is the latest experimental data product from the School Pulse Panel. Experimental data products are innovative statistical products created using new data sources or methodologies. Experimental data may not meet all NCES quality standards but are of sufficient benefit to data users in the absence of other relevant products to justify release. NCES clearly identifies experimental data products upon their release.

The data released today can be found on the School Pulse Panel dashboard at https://ies.ed.gov/schoolsurvey/.

Key Findings

Supporting Learning Recovery

  • Entering the 2022-23 school year, public schools estimated that, on average, 49 percent of their students began the year behind grade level in at least one academic subject.
    • Among public schools with students behind grade level in at least one academic subject, almost all reported that at least some students were behind in English (99 percent) or mathematics (99 percent).
  • As of December 2022, public schools have enacted a wide variety of strategies to support their students’ learning recovery.
    • More than eight in ten public schools have relied on diagnostic (88 percent) and formative (85 percent) assessment data to identify individual students’ academic needs.
    • Eighty-two percent of public schools have utilized remedial instruction techniques (i.e., using content from prior years to teach concepts or skills), while over half (59 percent) have utilized tailored accelerated instruction (i.e., teacher-led individualized learning using new, grade-level content to teach prior-grade concepts or skills).
    • Fifty-eight percent of public schools have provided professional development (PD) for their teachers and staff on learning recovery, and 38 percent have hired additional staff to provide more small-group and individual instruction.

Tutoring

In addition to strategies mentioned above, most public schools provide some type of tutoring to their students (83 percent).

  • Thirty-seven percent of public schools offer high-dosage tutoring (HDT), which is defined as tutoring that takes place for at least 30 minutes per session, one-on-one or in small group instruction, offered three or more times per week, is provided by educators or well-trained tutors, and aligns with an evidence-based core curriculum or program. It is also referred to as evidence-based or high-quality tutoring.
    • Forty-one percent of public schools offering HDT report that more of their students are receiving HDT during this school year compared to the previous school year (2021-22).
    • Of public schools offering HDT, 56 percent report that teachers who have received training or PD in tutoring administer HDT at their school. Additionally, aides who have received training or PD in tutoring and subject-areas specialists are commonly reported as staff who administer HDT (reported by 47 and 39 percent of schools, respectively).
    • The majority of public schools offering HDT do so through pull-out services during regular instruction (66 percent), in the classroom during regular instruction (53 percent), and after school (49 percent).
    • Sixty-two percent of public schools offering HDT “moderately” or “strongly agree” that they are able to effectively provide HDT to all students who need it.
  • Fifty-nine percent of public schools offer standard tutoring (SDT), which is defined as a less intensive method of tutoring that may take place in one-on-one, small group, or large group settings, is offered less than three times per week, and is provided by educators who may or may not have received specific training in tutoring practices.
    • Thirty-one percent of public schools offering SDT report that more of their students are receiving SDT during this school year compared to the previous school year (2021-22).
    • Of public schools offering SDT, 41 percent report that teachers who have received training or PD in tutoring administer SDT. Additionally, aides who have received training or PD in tutoring and teachers who have not received specialized training in tutoring are frequently commonly reported as staff who administer SDT (reported by 39 and 36 percent of schools, respectively).
    • The majority of schools offering SDT do so after school (66 percent). Forty-seven percent do so during regular instruction in the classroom, and 47 percent do so through pull-out services during regular instruction.
    • Fifty-eight percent of schools offering SDT “moderately” or “strongly agree” that they are able to effectively provide SDT to all students who need it.
  • Twenty-one percent of public schools offer self-paced tutoring (SPT), which is defined as a method of tutoring in which students work on their own, typically online, where they are provided guided instruction that allows them to move on to new material after displaying mastery of content.
    • Twenty-four percent of public schools offering SPT report that more of their students are receiving SPT during this school year compared to the previous school year (2021-22).
    • The majority of public schools offering SPT do so during regular instruction in the classroom (62 percent). Forty-two percent do so after school, and 30 percent do so through pull-out services during regular instruction.
    • Sixty-four percent of public schools offering SPT “moderately” or “strongly agree” that they are able to effectively provide SPT to all students who need it.

Learning Modes and Quarantine Prevalence

  • In December 2022, 99 percent of public schools offered in-person learning, 14 percent offered full-time remote learning, and 5 percent offered hybrid learning.
  • In December 2022, 36 percent of public schools reported having to quarantine students (an increase from 31 percent in November 2022), and 26 percent reported having to quarantine staff members (an increase from 17 percent in November 2022).

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The National Center for Education Statistics, a principal agency of the U.S. Federal Statistical System, is the statistical center of the U.S. Department of Education and the primary federal entity for collecting and analyzing data related to education in the U.S. and other nations. NCES fulfills a congressional mandate to collect, collate, analyze, and report complete statistics on the condition and progress of American education; conduct and publish reports; and review and report on education activities internationally.

Follow NCES on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and YouTube and subscribe to the NCES Newsflash to receive email notifications when new data is released.

The Institute of Education Sciences (IES) is the independent and nonpartisan statistics, research, and evaluation arm of the U.S. Department of Education. Its mission is to provide scientific evidence on which to ground education practice and policy and to share this information in formats that are useful and accessible to educators, parents, policymakers, researchers, and the public.

CONTACT:
Josh Delarosa, National Center for Education Statistics, Aris.nces@ed.gov
James Elias, Hager Sharp, jelias@hagersharp.com