Decreasing test scores: COVID-19’s lasting impact on students


Grace Zhang

Student stays up late struggling to study for his SAT.

Caleb Lou and Parth Sampat

For the past three years, students of all ages have suffered from a raging pandemic. In school specifically, students’ grades and test scores have lowered significantly resulting in experts being concerned.

Students’ performance has continued to decline since the pandemic’s start. Going from online learning to hybrid learning and transitioning back to an average year, these ever-changing learning environments have affected all students in many ways. Hall High school counselor Christine Mahler, says “Student performance in general as far as grades since Covid, for some students yes [grades have lowered]. I think that the pandemic has hindered their performance and school engagement”. Students all learn in different ways and adapt at different rates. It’s clear that students have been impacted by the pandemic. 

Kevin Hoang, a senior from Hall High School, says that “ During the whole online learning phase made it really hard to learn, I kept getting distracted, and found it hard to interact with the subject I was learning….I became lazy as a result, which made me more hesitant to study” Having to change between learning from the comfort of our homes to a mixture of both, and then on to transitioning back to a normal school year, has taken a toll on student’s ability to focus and stay motivated. 

“Sometimes it would be hard to get into classes or understand what was happening because of the connection or trouble just receiving the information,” says Freshman, Amalia Werkmeister-Dana. Not only have students been impacted in how they learn, but they also have potential gaps in knowledge, leaving them less prepared for future classes. Where there was a potential knowledge gap, might help to explain the decrease in performance. 

With COVID-19 came an evident decrease in grades, which can still be seen in students today. Places such as Boston, Dallas, Houston, and Chicago have seen the lowest grades and test scores in decades. A New York Times article by Kate Taylor and Amelia Nierenberg reports, “In Dallas, five high schools had more than a quarter of students failing two or more courses this spring, up from just one school two years ago.” Many areas are debating whether to use failing grades – a motive that can demoralize a student. “And in Chicago, a recent story by WBEZ described teachers at high-poverty high schools agonizing about whether to fail students,” says Taylor and Nierenberg.

In addition to grades, there has been an evident decrease in standardized test scores. 

The COVID-19 Pandemic has seen a sharp decrease in overall ACT scores. For the first time in over 30 years, the national average score is under 20 (

Approximately 1.3 million students took the ACT according to the official ACT website. They report that “The national average Composite score for the graduating class of 2022 is 19.8, down from 20.3 for the graduating class of 2021, the lowest average score since 1991.” Furthermore, more and more high school students are failing to meet all of the ACT’s subject benchmarks ., reports an NPR article by The Associated Press. These results are making experts concerned about the future generation of students. “We see rapidly growing numbers of seniors leaving high school without meeting college-readiness benchmarks in any of the subjects we measure.”