After pandemic closures, kids are still behind. Can you do their math? (2024)

The pandemic reversed years of academic progress for children across the country. The good news? They’re bouncing back.

But a full recovery is still a long way off, experts predict. And children are lagging further behind in math than they are in reading — the result of particularly deep losses in the subject. Meanwhile, billions of dollars in recovery aid that districts relied upon to help kids catch up will run out this fall.

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The extent of the pandemic’s toll was laid bare when students took the National Assessment of Educational Progress, commonly called “the nation’s report card,” in 2022. Average math scores on a 500-point scale fell by eight points for eighth-graders and by five points for fourth-grade test-takers — the steepest declines recorded in more than a half-century of testing.

This quiz features some of the questions fourth- and eighth-grade students encountered on that exam. It includes questions they breezed by and stumbled over, from algebra to geometry, as well as the share of students who scored points. For many questions, students are not allowed to use a calculator, but we did include a few that allow the use of one, marked with a calculator icon. In case you get stuck, each problem includes a video explanation from Jessica Gonzalez, director of math strategy and advancement for D.C. Public Schools.

How do you stack up?

Grade 4
Question 1 of 10

Subtract:

4.57 - 2.39

After pandemic closures, kids are still behind. Can you do their math? (1)

4.57

2.39

After pandemic closures, kids are still behind. Can you do their math? (2)

4.57

2.39

After pandemic closures, kids are still behind. Can you do their math? (3)

4.57

2.39

After pandemic closures, kids are still behind. Can you do their math? (4)

4.57

2.39

Question 2 of 10

Aubrey made a tower with 5 layers of cubes, as shown.

She then removed the top 2 layers of the tower.

How many cubes did she remove?

A tower made up of many smaller cubes. The tower's dimensions are 4 cubes wide, 3 cubes deep and 5 cubes tall.

After pandemic closures, kids are still behind. Can you do their math? (5)

After pandemic closures, kids are still behind. Can you do their math? (6)

After pandemic closures, kids are still behind. Can you do their math? (7)

After pandemic closures, kids are still behind. Can you do their math? (8)

After pandemic closures, kids are still behind. Can you do their math? (9)
Question 3 of 10

Jack baked a total of □ cookies.

He baked 2 cookies for each of the 25 students in his class.

He also baked 5 cookies for his teacher.

Which of the following number sentences shows how to find the total number of cookies Jack baked?

Question 4 of 10

Which of the following directions could Paula take to get from her house to school?

A 10x10 grid with two dots on it. A blue dot, marked "Paula's House" is 7 points from the left and 1 point from the top. A pink dot labeled "School" is 4 points from the left and 2 points from the bottom. There is a directional compass in the bottom right, showing north, south, east and west.

After pandemic closures, kids are still behind. Can you do their math? (10)

Paula’s House

N

School

W

E

S

After pandemic closures, kids are still behind. Can you do their math? (11)

Paula’s House

N

School

W

E

S

After pandemic closures, kids are still behind. Can you do their math? (12)

Paula’s House

N

School

E

W

S

After pandemic closures, kids are still behind. Can you do their math? (13)

Paula’s House

N

School

E

W

S

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Grade 8
Question 5 of 10

Subtract:

xx

After pandemic closures, kids are still behind. Can you do their math? (14)

-3 – 8

After pandemic closures, kids are still behind. Can you do their math? (15)

-3 – 8

After pandemic closures, kids are still behind. Can you do their math? (16)

-3 – 8

After pandemic closures, kids are still behind. Can you do their math? (17)

-3 – 8

Question 6 of 10

A statue sits on top of a pedestal, as shown.

The length of the shadow of the pedestal is 30 meters.

The length of the shadow of both the statue and the pedestal is 150 meters.

The height of the statue is S meters.

The height of the pedestal is P meters.

Which of the following pairs of numbers could be the values of S and P?

A graphic showing a statue on a pedestal that's casting a long shadow. The statue is labeled as "S meters" and the pedestal is labeled as "P meters." The entire shadow is labeled as "150 meters" and the pedestal part of the shadow is labeled as "30 meters."

After pandemic closures, kids are still behind. Can you do their math? (18)

S meters

P meters

30 meters

150 meters

After pandemic closures, kids are still behind. Can you do their math? (19)

S meters

P meters

30 meters

150 meters

After pandemic closures, kids are still behind. Can you do their math? (20)

S meters

P meters

30 meters

150 meters

After pandemic closures, kids are still behind. Can you do their math? (21)

After pandemic closures, kids are still behind. Can you do their math? (22)
Question 7 of 10

Sara plans to exercise for 315 minutes over a period of 7 days.

She is going to exercise an equal number of minutes each day.

Which of the following equations represents the number of minutes, m, Sara has exercised after d days?

Question 8 of 10

Which of the following statements must be true about any two distinct lines that intersect at exactly one point in the xy-plane?

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Grade 12
Question 9 of 10

What is the brother’s height that corresponds to the tallest sister’s height?

A graph showing the different heights of brothers and sisters. Sister's heights in inches are along the x axis and brother's height in inches is along the y axis.

After pandemic closures, kids are still behind. Can you do their math? (23)

Sister-Brother Heights

74

72

Brother’s Height (inches)

70

68

66

64

62

60

56

58

60

62

64

66

68

Sister’s Height (inches)

After pandemic closures, kids are still behind. Can you do their math? (24)

Sister-Brother Heights

74

72

Brother’s Height (inches)

70

68

66

64

62

60

56

58

60

62

64

66

68

Sister’s Height (inches)

After pandemic closures, kids are still behind. Can you do their math? (25)

Sister-Brother Heights

74

72

Brother’s Height (inches)

70

68

66

64

62

60

56

58

60

62

64

66

68

Sister’s Height (inches)

After pandemic closures, kids are still behind. Can you do their math? (26)

Question 10 of 10

Solve

An exponential equation of 16^(1/2)^3

After pandemic closures, kids are still behind. Can you do their math? (27)

1

3

(16

)

2

After pandemic closures, kids are still behind. Can you do their math? (28)

1

3

(16

)

2

After pandemic closures, kids are still behind. Can you do their math? (29)

1

3

(16

)

2

After pandemic closures, kids are still behind. Can you do their math? (30)

You need to answer every question to see your result. You’re missing questions 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 and 10.

About this story

Quiz questions courtesy of U.S. Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences, National Center for Education Statistics, National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), 2022 Math Assessment and 2013 Math Assessment. Some questions and answers have been altered.

Editing by April Bethea and Tara McCarty. Design and development by Stephanie Hays. Design editing by Christian Font. Video by Hadley Green. Video editing by Neeti Upadhye and Jessica Koscielniak. Copy editing by Vanessa Larson. Illustrations by Sean Dong for The Washington Post.

After pandemic closures, kids are still behind. Can you do their math? (2024)

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