Study Shows JCPS Among Leaders in Academic Recovery

Student Achievement Getting Back to Pre-Pandemic Levels

By Mark Hebert

February 5, 2024 - A new study has found that Jefferson County Public Schools (JCPS) students’ recovery from the pandemic exceeds the state average and is among the best of the nation’s largest school districts. Researchers at Harvard and Stanford released a national data set called the Education Recovery Scorecard which looked at how school districts across the country are recovering from the pandemic.  

Using 2023 test scores, the study found 25 of the nation’s largest districts who are members of the Council of the Great City Schools, including JCPS, are among the fastest recovering districts in their state and among the best in the nation on recovery in both math and reading since 2022. The researchers also found JCPS’:

  • Math and reading recovery is higher than the Kentucky average.
  • Reading recovery was among the best of the nation’s largest school districts.
  • Black students have fully recovered from reading losses during the pandemic.
  • Black students had almost a half a grade level equivalent improvement in reading and Hispanic students had a third of a grade level equivalent improvement in math.

“Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic caused a slide in learning for students across America,” said Dr. Marty Pollio, JCPS superintendent. “This study shows that JCPS is among the leaders in getting student learning and success back to pre-pandemic levels and I believe our focus on racial equity has played a big role in that success.”  

Classroom photo with students raising hands

Data shows that between 2019 and 2022, JCPS students’ achievement fell by three quarters of a grade equivalent in math and half a grade level in reading. But since 2022, JCPS students showed about a third of a grade level increase in reading and close to a quarter in math. Researchers noted in their report that a third of a grade level increase in achievement is “huge” in a typical year.

“We applaud Jefferson County Public Schools for the progress their students have made in recovering from the pandemic, improving a quarter of a grade level equivalent or more in reading and nearly a quarter of a grade equivalent in math,” said Council of the Great City Schools Executive Director Ray Hart. “While there is more work to be done, district leaders, staff, and families should be commended.”

JCPS invested its federal pandemic-related funds on technology, staff and student support in schools, extended learning opportunities like the Summer Backpack League, and salaries to retain teachers and staff.

“What this research shows is that hard work by our teachers and staff along with investments in programs that directly impact students has put JCPS on the right path to getting back to, and even exceeding, where we were pre-pandemic,” Pollio said. “We’re proud of that.” 

VIDEO: Pollio and Hart discuss the study findings