Students work during math class in Joselyne Garcia-Moreno’s classroom Sept. 22, 2022, at Lincoln High School in Denver. (Olivia Sun, The Colorado Sun via Report for America)

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Colorado students posted the lowest scores in more than a decade on the test known as “the nation’s report card,” with the steepest declines in middle school math and with Hispanic students losing the most ground. And while Colorado students posted better reading scores than did students in 27 other states, that was largely because other states lost even more ground. 

The learning loss from 2019 to 2022 on the National Assessment of Educational Progress, known as NAEP, points to the devastating impact the pandemic has had on the education of children in almost every pocket of Colorado and the nation. 

While research has already shown that academic progress reversed, NAEP results released Monday provide the most detailed and authoritative accounting yet, with data coming from a representative set of students nationwide and allowing for comparisons across states and some cities.

“The results are appalling and unacceptable,” U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona said. “This is a moment of truth. How we respond will determine our standing in the world.”

This year’s results reaffirm what Colorado education leaders and teachers already knew thanks to statewide assessments: Students fell behind.

But parents, teachers, and students are working hard to rebound, said Joyce Zurkowski, Colorado Department of Education chief assessment officer.

“There are some indications that things are on the way back up,” she said. “But there’s work to do.”