Two-thirds of young Colorado students are behind in math. Gov. Polis, lawmakers could intervene next year.

A new report highlights students’ struggles to keep up with math skills during the pandemic — which could have far-reaching consequences for both kids and the state’s workforce

Erica Breunlin
The Colorado Sun
George Washington High School students participate in math classes taught by Joseph Bolz Monday, Nov. 14, 2022, in Denver.
Jeremy Sparig/Special to The Colorado Sun

Less than a third of Colorado elementary and middle school students are meeting or exceeding grade level benchmarks in math, signaling what some educators and education advocates see as a crisis in the race to help kids regain academic ground after so many disruptions to their learning throughout the pandemic. 

Students’ struggles to excel in math are detailed in a report published Tuesday by the nonpartisan Keystone Policy Center, which analyzed test results from state assessments, both the Colorado Measures of Academic Success and SAT exams. The findings also highlight challenges among older students across the state: Less than 35% of 11th grade students met or exceeded college readiness targets in math on the SAT — down more than 4 percentage points from 2019 and down from 2021 results.

The report urges state leaders to take a closer look at ways to help students recover math skills as it builds on troubling data from the National Assessment of Educational Progress, referred to as NAEP, released last month. That data, which compares students’ academic achievement across states, illustrated setbacks in math among elementary and middle school students. Fourth graders in Colorado experienced significant declines, Chalkbeat Colorado reported, with proficiency falling from about 44% of students in 2019 to 36% of students this year.

“Not only were we bad, but we’ve gotten significantly worse,” said Van Schoales, senior policy director at the Keystone Policy Center, noting that Colorado schools are failing to help low-income elementary school students make progress in math.


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