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Parents, teachers and policymakers are all asking the same questions as kids embark on a new school year: How far have students fallen behind in classes now that the pandemic days of remote learning have passed? What kinds of students suffered the most with their academics coming out of COVID? And how will schools help students make up for lost time and lessons?

That last question will require more reporting from The Colorado Sun, not just this school year but throughout the next several years. Answers to the other questions, however, are starting to emerge following the release of state test data last week by the Colorado Department of Education.

Some of the immediate findings from that data — which comes from state assessments taken in the spring — show that many students are making progress in their understanding of math, a subject that has drawn more concern and, consequently, more state resources as many kids have struggled to stay on pace. Many other students, however, continue to lag behind grade-level expectations in math. Additionally, boys are generally rebounding quicker in school coming out of the pandemic than girls, and serious achievement gaps have persisted between white and affluent students and students of color, those living in poverty, kids learning English and kids with a disability.

The state’s annual data drop of spring test results, both the Colorado Measures of Academic Success and the SAT, can be overwhelming to understand. That’s why The Colorado Sun and the nonpartisan Keystone Policy Center teamed up to help ease the process of sorting through all the numbers.

Using this map, you can get a sense of how the state, on average, is performing in math and English. By zooming in, you can also drill down to explore how individual districts and schools are performing and look back at student performance during the 2018-19, 2020-21 and 2021-22 school years. The map is also designed to break down how different groups of students are faring in school. That includes students of color, males and females, kids learning English, students with a disability and students from low-income households (those who qualify for free or reduced lunch).

You can comb through the data efficiently and get as specific as you want in understanding how well specific schools and specific demographics of students grasp both math and English — or how much academic ground they still have to make up. 

Keep an eye out for more education maps to come.

Erica Breunlin is an education writer for The Colorado Sun, where she has reported since 2019. Much of her work has traced the wide-ranging impacts of the pandemic on student learning and highlighted teachers' struggles with overwhelming workloads...