3 Tips on How to Increase Elementary Math Scores Since COVID

3 Tips on How to Increase Elementary Math Scores Since COVID

October 10, 2022
Results are in on the effects of the pandemic and learning loss; math scores have fallen dramatically.
Average scores for age 9 students in 2022 declined 5 points in reading and 7 points in mathematics compared to 2020.
This is the largest average score decline in reading since 1990, and the first ever score decline in mathematics.  COVID-19 pandemic↗
Students already behind struggled more, with their math scores falling by up to 12 points. And scores dropped the most for low socioeconomic students, widening an already wide gap. What might surprise you is that data shows that there was no significant difference between schools that stayed open during this time frame and those that stayed closed (Forbes↗).
The question is, what do we do from here?


Historically, some interventions that have worked to battle the “summer slide” are summer learning, tutoring↗, after-school programs, extended school-day, and school-year initiatives. Continuing into this school year, many schools are using their ESSER money to implement these types of programs to battle the effects of the pandemic. 


Tutoring doesn’t just have to be one-on-one instruction with a certified tutor, it can be any small group of students overseen by a teacher, teaching assistant, parent, or volunteer.  In a study↗ released in 2022, they found that tutoring programs yielded consistent and substantial positive impacts on learning outcomes, with an overall effect size of 0.37 SD. Effects were stronger for teacher and paraprofessional tutoring programs than for nonprofessional and parent tutoring. Math tutoring tends to yield higher effect sizes in later grades than lower.
Here are some tips for small group tutoring…
  1. Make the most of your time - have materials ready ahead of time and make small group routines and procedures with students so they know how to get down to business.
  2. Cover one concept at a time - keep lessons bite-sized and focused on one concept or skill so that students can build understanding in that one area and go home feeling successful.
  3. Be strategic with the groups - use the groups to differentiate support for students. Not all students struggle with the same skills or need the same amount of support so be strategic when grouping students and selecting concepts.
Mango Math can help with tips #1 and #2! In Mango Math kits, all materials and components are included to facilitate small groups of 4. Each hands-on game-based math kit comes with 20-25 lessons that cover prominent concepts from the school year. Each lesson directly supports a specific skill.

Support and Growth Mindset

Small group instruction is especially beneficial because it allows students a soft reentry into learning. As data continues to emerge regarding the effects of the pandemic on learning, it is clear that students suffered more than learning loss. Learning loss and emotional trauma of COVID-19 mirrored effects of natural disasters such as Hurricane Katrina. This article↗ reports that math anxiety is at an all time high, magnified by home life worries such as illness, instability, and tension.
Take the time to do a quick check in with your students such as “fist to five” where students show on one hand how they are doing at that moment. Give them positive affirmations and support in the small group setting. According to Dweck’s research, a growth mindset is correlated with mathematics achievement. The students that BELIEVE they can persevere and accomplish, DO persevere and accomplish. If a student says they are bad at math or do not believe in themselves for any reason, tell them otherwise and plant the seeds for a growth mindset! 
To further build a student’s support network, consider involving family members in the progress and growth mindset. Share small activities families can do at home with students. Facilitate math family nights within your school to foster discovery and positive math mindset in the community. 

Parent Involvement

Provide parents with growth mindset words that they can provide to their students. MANGO Math posts on our social media weekly. Words that promote this growth mindset. Check it out.  We also provide tutorials on how teachers and parents can work with students to build their math fact masters. Check out these videos on MANGO Math YouTube channel that provide tips and tricks for helping students master their math facts. Addition and Subtraction Mastery, we will be having a webinar on Oct 12,2022 on  Multiplication and Division Mastery and Oct 19, 2022 on Fraction Mastery.  All are welcome, if you were unable to attend make sure to subscribe to our YouTube channel for notifications on our video posts. 


No one could have predicted the COVID pandemic and the large rippling effects it had on society. As each month passed by, I kept thinking things would get better but it took a lot longer than the next month. In fact, we are still experiencing impacts of COVID today. As we know from history, it is how society reacts that matters. In education, let’s react with perseverance and grit. Let’s look for solutions instead of focusing on the learning loss of the last two years. Educators can move forward, building the skills of our students through programs such as MANGO math. Together, we can do it!