The Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has disrupted students’ academic progress and mental health across the country.
According to the latest results from the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), in reading and quantitative scores, there have been significant declines in fourth and eighth grades since the onset of the pandemic. Furthermore, a study conducted by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that more than 30% of high school students who were part of the study reported concerns related to mental health, such as feelings of sadness or hopelessness. In this limited research study, the overall SSAT and Character Skills Snapshot score change patterns across the two years (2019-20 and 2021-22 academic years) are examined for the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on students’ cognitive and non-cognitive outcomes. In addition, the SSAT score changes before and after the pandemic are examined across student and school characteristics, including gender, race/ethnicity, ability level, and school type.
This study focused on SSAT scores in verbal, reading, and quantitative before the pandemic closed schools (August 2019 through March 2020) for the Pre-COVID year and August 2021 through March 2022 for the Post-COVID year. And, for Character Skills Snapshot scores in the areas of intellectual engagement, initiative, open-mindedness, resilience, and self-control as these are seen as most relevant for impacting academic factors.
The study includes data from 75,000+ domestic students who took the SSAT and 30,000+ students who took the Character Skills Snapshot. Data was analyzed from both Middle (grades 5–7) and Upper (grades 8–11) levels.