Nation's report card, COVID-related reading, math decline

Math and reading scores for America’s 9-year-olds fell dramatically during the first two years of the pandemic, according to a new federal study — offering an early glimpse of the sheer magnitude of the learning setbacks dealt to the nation's children.

Reading scores saw their largest decrease in 30 years, while math scores had their first decrease in the history of the testing regimen behind the study, according to the National Center for Education Statistics, a branch of the U.S. Education Department.

The dramatic setbacks, which erased two decades of progress in American test scores, reflect years of upheaval for the country's education system.

Now, work is being done to get kids back on track.

At Mathnasium in Whitefish Bay, Janie Buettner has been getting a little help with math for more than a year.

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"I've improved a lot in my tests," said Buettner, a fifth-grader. "I was really struggling with math, and I didn’t get a lot that they were teaching me last year."

Mathnasium owner, Rohita Shah, has seen the pandemic's impact first-hand.

"This summer was the busiest that we’ve ever been," said Shah. 

Shah said she's seen a big increase in kids needing help.

"It has been steadily increasing, and I think a lot of it has to do with the fact that the kids didn’t get what they needed these last couple of years," said Shah.

Itzel Galindo is the executive director of Wisconsin's Reading Corps. Tutors are working with students in 149 schools across the state.

"We bring in tutors from all walks of life from the community to help our kiddos really build a solid foundation in their early literacy skills," said Galindo. 

Places like Mathnasium and Wisconsin's Reading Corps. are giving kids the right tools, adding to their success.

"Our kiddos are capable of being successful readers and proficient readers if we work together," said Galindo.

"It’s really helped me," said Buettner.