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STATEWIDE — Test scores in all subjects among Indiana’s students were down significantly last year.

Experts are blaming many things, but one prevalent reason is the shutdowns due to the COVID pandemic back in 2020. Scores from the most recent National Assessment of Educational Progress, also called the “Nation’s Report Card”, show the pandemic caused historic learning setbacks for American children.

In Indiana, 40-percent of fourth graders and 30-percent of eighth graders scored at or above proficiency in math. Reading levels match the national average, with 33-percent of Indiana’s fourth graders and 31-percent of the state’s eighth graders marked proficient or better.

“Slips in reading, for example, were three points in the US, but five points in Indiana at each grade level,” said Sarah Lubienski, an associate dean at IU’s School of Education. “Math was down seven points.”

Reading scores are the lowest they’ve been since 1992. Dr. Katie Jenner is Indiana’s Secretary of Education and tells WISH-TV the decline in reading scores had started well before the pandemic but was made worse by the pandemic.

“Beginning in about 2015, our 4th-grade students, we’ve seen a decline,” Jenner said. “Which is significant reason and urgency do everything we can to make sure all of our children in Indiana can read by the end of 3rd grade.”

Jenner added that Indiana could be even worse had leaders not done everything they could to get students back in classrooms in-person post-pandemic as quickly as possible. She said other states struggled big time in getting kids back in schools.

Lubianski said the decline in scores also highlights why good teachers are essential.