National Research

Annual Report: State of Student Learning in 2023


  • Subject: Mathematics, Literacy
  • Grades: K–8
  • Study Year: 2018–2023
  • Program: i-Ready Diagnostic

Published August 2023

The latest research on the state of student learning in 2023 describes reading and mathematics achievement based on the results of the i-Ready Diagnostic assessment administered to more than 11 million students in Grades K–8 in the United States.

Overall, there are few signs of recovery from pandemic-related school disruptions. There has been little movement in reading or math achievement levels from spring 2022 to spring 2023, with the exception of early-elementary reading (i.e., Grades 1–2), particularly in the Phonics domain.

Students Placing On Grade Level in Mathematics in Grades 1–8

Graph comparing student learning in math from spring 2021 to spring 2023.

Students Placing On Grade Level in Reading in Grades 1–8

Graph comparing student learning in reading from spring 2021 to spring 2023.

Key Findings:

  • Grades 1 and 2 students were not yet in school when the pandemic shut down schools in March 2020, yet they are still performing below pre-pandemic averages.
    • In spring 2023, 61 percent of Grade 1 students and 60 percent of Grade 2 students placed on grade level in reading on the i-Ready Diagnostic. While these results are slightly above achievement levels in spring 2022, they are seven percentage points below achievement levels in spring 2019.
    • Overall, early-elementary students show a small increase in grade-level attainment in reading between spring 2022 and spring 2023, yet they remain below pre-pandemic achievement levels.
  • Upper-elementary and middle school achievement levels in reading have remained stagnant. In Grades 5–8, fewer than 50 percent of students are reading on grade level, comparable with pre-pandemic levels.
  • In 2023, 50 percent of Grade 4 students placed On Grade Level in reading, a three-percentage-point drop from 2019. This is notable because Grade 4 students were in Grade 1 when schools initially closed—a crucial year for the development of foundational reading skills.
  • In mathematics, fewer students are on grade level and more students are below grade level across all grades compared to pre-pandemic levels.
    • In Grades 5–8, the percentage of students on grade level is between four and 10 percentage points lower than in 2019.
    • Across all grades, student learning from 2021–2022 to 2022–2023 remained stagnant.
  • Historical inequities continue to persist between schools serving majority Black and Latino students and schools serving majority White students, as well as between schools in low-income communities and schools in higher-income communities.