Elementary school students in the United States ended the 2020-21 school year four to five months behind where they normally would have been in academic achievement, according to a report by the consulting firm McKinsey & Co. that was released Tuesday. It found that many of the most vulnerable students experienced the steepest setbacks.
The new report — based on assessments taken by more than 1.6 million elementary school students who had returned to the classroom in the spring — is the latest indication that students who were already experiencing educational inequities were also hit hardest by the crisis.
For example, students attending schools whose student bodies were mainly Black or Hispanic ended the school year six months behind where they normally would have been in math, compared with four months behind for students in mainly white schools.
Similarly, students who attended a school where the average household income was less than $25,000 a year were seven months behind in math by the end of the term, compared with four months behind for schools where the average income was greater than $75,000.
“The pandemic hit everyone, but it hit kids who were already vulnerable hardest,” said Emma Dorn, an associate partner at McKinsey and the lead author of the report.
“That really widens some of the pre-existing opportunity and achievement gaps we were already facing in our country,” Ms. Dorn said.