National Report Shows Signs of Growth, Recovery Among Early Learners and Middle Schoolers

New edition of How Kids Are Performing shows improvements in student growth across nearly all grade levels and groups—particularly in elementary school

BLOOMINGTON, Minn. (October 18, 2022) Renaissance, a global leader in pre-K–12 education technology, today released the latest edition of How Kids Are Performing, a report detailing student academic performance and growth during the 2021–2022 school year. The new report reveals that overall, student performance during the past school year continued to fall in reading and was consistent in math—it improved in the elementary grades and declined in the upper grades. Results vary considerably by individual grade level, but the report gives clear reasons for optimism as well as underscoring the need for the action and momentum to continue forward. 

Based on the Star Reading assessments of more than 4.6 million students and the Star Math assessments of nearly 3.3 million students, the latest edition of How Kids Are Performing shows improvements in within-year growth compared to the prior school year across nearly all grades and groups, particularly in elementary school.

“In many cases, younger students are now exceeding what we would consider ‘typical’ growth in a single school year,” said Dr. Gene Kerns, chief academic officer at Renaissance. “As we’ve been tracking the impact of the pandemic on student achievement, the two areas of greatest concern have been mathematics among elementary school students and literacy skills among kindergarten students. Yet after initial declines during the 20212022 school year, those two areas are now showing the strongest improvements in growth. This suggests that educators have identified and responded to those challenges, which is cause for celebration and continued optimism for the work still ahead.”

Kerns highlighted other “great examples of the progress educators and students have been making over the past year across the country. Compared to growth rates from the prior school year, in math, English language learners and Pacific Islanders had a 15-point improvement in growth, while American Indian, Black, and Hispanic students all showed an increase of 12 points.” 

Other key findings in the new report include:

  • Overall, student performance on Star assessments was lower compared to the 2020–2021 school year, with exceptions in certain elementary grades. The largest declines were in the high school grades.
  • Some high school grades also showed declines in growth, but fall-to-spring growth was stronger than in the 20202021 school year in many early and middle grades, which reached or exceeded typical growth.
  • Although performance and growth varied among student and school groups, spring performance in reading was equal or lower in the 2021–2022 school year compared to the prior year, while performance in math was equal or higher than the prior year.

“Clearly, the pandemic has impacted all students’ learning outcomes, and now more than ever we need assessment systems that provide meaningful data in a timely manner,” said Ryan McKinnon, assistant principal at Carrollton City Schools in Georgia. “Our students’ potential has not changed, and the new report shows that students make adequate or even above-average growth when we focus on what’s working and modify our instructional techniques accordingly.”

To help educators prioritize their use of classroom time as they work to accelerate learning for their students this school year, Renaissance has released a collection of free resources, including:

  • Focus Skills in English and Spanish, designed to help educators identify the most critical skills for future learning at each grade level;
  • Trip Steps for Reading, which are the most difficult reading skills for students to master across grades K–12; and 
  • Trip Steps for Mathematics, showing the most difficult math skills for students to master from pre-K through Algebra 1.

To help educators focus on essential phonics skills, Renaissance is also offering Star Phonics, the first and only web-based assessment that measures the Science of Reading by screening and diagnosing 102 essential phonics skills. Dr. Michelle Hosp, the assessment’s creator, explains how the Science of Reading underlies Star Phonics in the new whitepaper, “The Science Behind Star Phonics.”

The full How Kids Are Performing report is available at

About Renaissance

As a global leader in assessment, reading, and math solutions for pre-K–12 schools and districts, Renaissance is committed to providing educators with insights and resources to accelerate growth and help all students build a strong foundation for success. Renaissance solutions reach more than 40% of US schools and more than a half million students in other regions across the world. Our portfolio includes solutions for assessment (Star Assessments, Star Phonics, myIGDIs for Preschool, FastBridge, DnA, and SchoolCity); practice (Accelerated Reader, myON, Freckle, and Lalilo); data-driven insights (eduCLIMBER and Schoolzilla); and teacher-facilitated instructional delivery (Nearpod). For more information, visit

Media Contact:
Lucy Duffy
Senior Public Relations and Communications Specialist