US Sees Sharp Decline in Basic Reading, Math Skills Among Nation’s 13-Year-Olds: Nation’s Report Card


The Nation’s Report Card, also known as the long-term trend assessment, has released data showing a sharp decline in basic math and reading skills among US 13-year-olds. This comes as no surprise as the pandemic has caused a major shift to remote learning, leaving many students struggling to keep up. Average math scores have remained the same as they were in 1990, while average reading scores are similar to 2004. The significance of this report card lies in the fact that the pandemic has exposed a long-standing issue in the education system. The fear now is that many schools are squandering the opportunity to implement immediate intervention, personalized learning plans, and high-impact tutoring. Urgency is needed to ensure that an entire generation of kids is not lost due to the failure of addressing this education crisis.

Nations Report Card: Long-term trend assessment 

The Nation’s Report Card, known as the long-term trend assessment, has recently shed light on findings regarding the basic math and reading skills of the nation’s 13-year-olds. The report card indicates a particularly notable decline in math, a trend that predates the pandemic and affects students from almost every type of setting – whether suburban, urban or rural – and every race, regardless of gender. While reading proficiency recorded a less dramatic decline, it still affected a significant number of students. The average math scores are from 1990, while the average reading scores are similar to those recorded in 2004. These findings are a significant cause for concern and highlight the need for immediate intervention to ensure that students do not fall further behind. Peggy Carr, the head of the National Center for Education Statistics, urges schools and policymakers to continue with interventions such as personalized learning plans, high-impact tutoring, and other add-ons to help students advance beyond their pre-pandemic levels. Carr notes that the road to recovery will be long, and a sustained effort is required. While the pandemic may have triggered the decline, experts note that remote learning had its challenges, with distracted students and stressed teachers struggling to stay on track. As such, the report card underscores the need for policymakers and educators to focus on implementing measures to help students catch up. This is particularly urgent as the report highlights how poor academic performance impacts students’ future prospects and the potential loss of an entire generation of kids. Overall, these findings highlight a critical issue in education that requires immediate attention. The report underscores the need for interventions to be implemented urgently to address the staggering decline in basic reading and math skills among the nation’s 13-year-olds.

Impact of the Pandemic on Education

The pandemic brought about a shift to remote learning, leading to unprecedented changes in the education sector. The sudden change didn’t come easy for students, parents, and educators, as remote learning posed severe challenges. Students lost access to in-person contact with teachers and peers, leading to a lack of motivation and engagement. Parents had to juggle their responsibilities with homeschooling, which wasn’t an easy feat. On the other hand, educators had to adapt quickly to new teaching methodologies, which proved to be quite tasking. Poor internet connectivity, especially in low-income homes, disrupted learning, and widened the achievement gaps between students. Children with disabilities and those from economically disadvantaged backgrounds bore the biggest brunt of remote learning. With the pandemic’s impact still prevalent, the education sector is grappling to address the learning loss that occurred. The inability to address this crisis urgently puts an entire generation of kids at risk because of the education crisis’ severity. Far too many schools have wasted this opportunity to implement immediate interventions, personalized learning plans, and high-impact tutoring. 

Findings of the Report 

The recently released Nation’s Report Card has brought to light some concerning statistics about the academic performance of 13-year-olds in the US. The report reveals that the pandemic has accelerated the decline of basic math and reading skills among students – including boys and girls of all races, setting types and locations.  According to the data, the average math score of US 13-year-olds dropped to the same level as their peers in 1990, while average reading scores are around the same level as 2004. This decline is significant and paints a worrying picture of the nation’s academic future.  The long-term trend assessment of the nation’s report card charts the performance and trends from 1971 to2020. Even though significant progress was evident over the years, the decline phenomenon witnessed in the recent data has raised concerns among policymakers, educators, and parents alike.  The report card also reveals disparities among different groups of students. For instance, there is evidence that math and reading skills levels are lower among different student groups. The data show that black, Hispanic, and Asian students have experienced more significant declines in math and reading skills than white students. Female students’ average reading score was lower than male students’ average reading score, but girls’ math scores were similar to boys’ math scores. It is vital to note that the report’s findings underscore the urgency for policymakers, schools, and parents to prioritize interventions, personalized learning plans, and tutoring. Such interventions and add-ons are critical to ensuring that students recover and advance beyond academic losses.

Implications of the Report

The report card findings highlight the potential future consequences of the decline in academic performance among 13-year-olds. Poor performance in basic reading and math skills translates to fewer opportunities for higher education and future job opportunities, resulting in a cycle of poverty. This signifies the importance of taking urgent and immediate action to address the current situation. It is feared that the pandemic has caused a significant setback in education. However, the results from the Nation’s Report Card show that this decline in academic performance can be traced back to before the pandemic. The pandemic has only further revealed the existing gap in academic achievement. The urgency to implement interventions, such as immediate interventions like personalized learning plans and high-impact tutoring, cannot be stressed enough. These interventions should be accessible to students from all demographics and settings. The responsibility to act is on policymakers, educators, and schools. Tracking progress is vital and must be part of any intervention implemented. It is crucial to note whether any progress is being made and what effects the interventions are having on students. It is a long road ahead, and we must take significant steps to ensure that we do not lose an entire generation of students to the education crisis. 

Calls to Action 

As the Nation’s Report Card shows a noticeable decline in basic reading and math skills among 13-year-olds, it is crucial for policymakers and educators to take immediate action. The findings demonstrate that current interventions aren’t enough, and we need to address the issue with a sense of urgency. To begin addressing this problem, we need to evaluate the effectiveness of current interventions and adjust where necessary. It’s imperative that policymakers and educators work hand in hand to create innovative approaches suitable to our new normal. Also, tracking progress and continually monitoring the impact of these interventions is critical. The current situation is dire, and the immediate implementation of personalized learning plans and high-impact tutoring is necessary to prevent losing an entire generation of kids. The pandemic has already caused enough havoc, and we cannot afford to let it strip our children of their fundamental right to quality education. Therefore, it’s time to act. Let’s take advantage of every opportunity and ensure that every student has equal access to educational resources. 


It’s clear from the Nation’s Report Card that the decline in basic math and reading skills among 13-year-olds is a cause for concern. The pandemic has only made this issue worse, as remote learning has presented significant challenges. The report shows that urgent action is needed to address this education crisis and prevent a lost generation of students. Policymakers and educators must prioritize interventions and personalized learning plans to help students not only recover what they’ve lost but also advance beyond it. It’s crucial to track progress and ensure that measures taken are leading to improvement. We can’t afford to let this issue go unaddressed – the future of our students depends on it.


By Toby

Toby is a highly skilled Senior Reporter at Edtech Avenue. With a passion for journalism and a deep understanding of the industry, Toby plays a crucial role in shaping the platform's content strategy. Her expertise in researching, writing, and editing educational articles ensures that the content published on Edtech Avenue is informative, accurate, and engaging. Toby's commitment to journalistic integrity and his ability to identify compelling stories make him an invaluable asset to the team, working towards informing and empowering readers in the field of education.

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