Public school leaders estimated that about half — 49% — of their students began the 2022-2023 year behind grade level in at least one academic subject, according to data released Feb. 9 by the National Center for Education Statistics, the statistical center within the U.S. Department of Education’s Institute of Education Sciences.

“Many students were behind grade level at the start of the current academic year, including in core academic subjects like English and mathematics,” said NCES Commissioner Peggy G. Carr. “Both this school year and last school year, public school leaders estimated that about half of their students began the school year behind grade level in at least one academic subject. These data suggest that academic recovery will take time. Additional data show that public schools are employing a combination of learning recovery strategies to help students get back on track.”

Public schools have implemented a wide variety of learning recovery strategies as of December 2022, when the data were collected. Most public schools have relied on diagnostic (88%) and formative (85%) assessment data to identify individual students’ academic needs, and 81% of public schools have used remedial instruction techniques (i.e., using content from prior years to teach concepts or skills). Over half (59%) of public schools have used tailored accelerated instruction (i.e., teacher-led individualized learning using new, grade-level content to teach prior-grade concepts or skills).

In addition to the strategies mentioned above, most public schools provide some type of tutoring to their students (83%). Thirty-seven percent of public schools offer high-dosage tutoring. Among these schools, 42% report that more of their students are receiving high-dosage tutoring this year than the previous school year. In addition to high-dosage tutoring, schools are offering other types of tutoring, including standard tutoring (59%) and self-paced tutoring (22%).

The findings are from the School Pulse Panel, which is  part of NCES’s innovative approach to delivering timely information regarding the COVID-19 pandemic’s impact on public K–12 schools in the U.S. on topics such as learning recovery, tutoring offerings, learning mode offerings and quarantine prevalence, as reported by school staff in U.S. public schools. Data from this round were collected from 1,026 participating public schools between Dec. 8 and Dec. 22, 2022.

This is the latest experimental data product from the School Pulse Panel. Experimental data products are innovative statistical products created using new data sources or methodologies. Experimental data may not meet all NCES quality standards but are of sufficient benefit to data users in the absence of other relevant products to justify release.

The data above as well as additional key findings can be found on the School Pulse Panel dashboard.