Education agencies turning to SAS to measure learning loss and recovery

Virginia joins growing number of states using analytics and data to better support teachers and accelerate student learning

The key to measuring learning loss and the effectiveness of recovery efforts, and to understanding student growth trends, is data. Education agencies nationwide are turning to analytics leader SAS to help them analyze assessment data to understand the struggles and successes of different grades, subjects and student groups.

SAS has been at the forefront of student growth measurement for 20 years, and its solutions are used around the US to help educators better understand students’ strengths and weaknesses to differentiate instruction. The Commonwealth of Virginia recently chose SAS® to help accelerate learning recovery for students set back by the pandemic.

The commonwealth recently launched Virginia’s Visualization and Analytics Solution (VVAAS), a web-based tool built by SAS that displays measures of students’ academic growth over time, diagnostic reports for student groups, and student projections to help educators improve student achievement. The Virginia Department of Education is training over 800 school division staff members to access, navigate, understand and use the information to best meet student needs, target remediation efforts and strategically utilize resources.  

Additionally, states such as Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina and North Dakota have created in-depth learning loss reports with help from SAS. For example, SAS provided the analysis behind the recent North Carolina Recovery Analysis, which showed signs of academic recovery. The analysis showed that students tended to perform closer to pre-pandemic expectations on 2022 assessments than on 2021 assessments, with the expectations established based on students’ testing data from prior to the pandemic. This recovery trend was noted for nearly every assessment included in the analysis, with the strongest recovery evident in math.

Idaho is also exploring learning loss with SAS, and the City of Newark, NJ, is measuring student learning trends with similar models.

Student-level data helps drive learning acceleration

The Hunt Institute and SAS hosted a series of meetings of chief state school officers and staff to share learning loss and recovery strategies and best practices. The common theme? Data.

“Investing in robust data collection systems will ensure that states and districts can be responsive to student needs, react quickly to future crisis scenarios and evaluate the efficacy of programs,” said The Hunt Institute President and CEO Dr. Javaid Siddiqi.

Nearly a dozen states, with data representing millions of students, are using SAS to measure COVID-19 learning loss at the district, school and individual student levels.

In this approach, students are compared to themselves. These statistical approaches are used to predict how students would have scored on assessments absent the pandemic. By comparing those results to the expected scores and assessing how students performed versus how they were expected to perform, one can aggregate results at the school, district and student group levels.

Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina and North Dakota were able to gain greater insights into how different student groups fared during the pandemic and gauge the impact of in-person, hybrid and remote instruction. These findings use all available assessment data, not just a sample. The results provide districts and states with valuable data for teachers as they return to the classroom to make decisions on targeted interventions for individual students and student groups.

As states enact learning recovery strategies, having this level of understanding will help them identify what is working and what is not, and more confidently alter strategies when necessary. SAS is already helping states monitor recovery efforts.  Tracking recovery data will also be critical when reporting on the use of federal learning loss funds.

“The federal government has poured billions of dollars into learning recovery, and states are already being asked to account for how that money was spent,” said Dr. Melody Schopp, former South Dakota Secretary of Education and current Director of Education Industry Consulting at SAS. “Equipped with a trove of valuable learning loss data, states can understand their own unique challenges and more effectively improve learning strategies to show how they used once-in-a-lifetime funding to positively impact all students.”

For more information on how SAS works to combat learning loss and drive recovery, visit SAS’ learning loss page at

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Education agencies nationwide are turning to SAS to measure learning loss and to accelerate learning recovery