Insights Blog

Another inequitable shock in math learning

At a Glance


When we launched this blog, we made a commitment to share emerging trends in our data with the broader math learning community—policymakers, administrators, educators and parents—because what we can glean from our student learning data is more than just insights into how to make our platform better and more engaging for students. It can also tell us a lot about how kids are—or aren’t—learning across the country right now. And that’s in keeping with a mission that goes way beyond our own platform.

This is an incredibly difficult moment in education. When the pandemic struck, we didn’t have a set playbook for how to keep students learning or how to help them recover missed learning. So many people have had to make it up as they’ve gone along, and folks have chosen different paths when it comes to, for example, opting for distance learning or reopening schools, or deciding which students receive which academic interventions.

In the absence of an obvious roadmap, there’s a responsibility to innovate, to carve a path where none existed before. But nearly two years into the pandemic, we also have the responsibility to step back, to reassess how students are faring, and to examine the impacts of the policy choices made along the way, so that the adults shaping children’s educational experiences can make informed decisions going forward.

Amid the omicron surge in recent weeks...the math learning gap between students from high-income and low-income households is widening.
<cms-quote-source>Shalinee Sharma<cms-quote-source>

It’s with this goal in mind that Zearn is releasing our latest white paper. Amid the omicron surge in recent weeks, we’ve seen a troubling trend in our data that suggests that the math learning gap between students from high-income and low-income households is widening. We don’t yet have all the answers for why that is happening, but we’re publishing what we know so that we can invite the broader math learning community to begin crafting the solution. Together, we can start writing that playbook, so that every kid has the opportunity to become a math kid—even in a pandemic.


A fresh round of data shows that while the gap between students from low-income and high-income households is narrowing, even as Covid cases decrease in many places, math participation among students from low-income households has not yet recovered to pre-Omicron levels. Through waves of pandemic-driven disruption, the pattern is clear: the learning of students from low-income households is being disrupted more severely and for longer periods of time than for their better-resourced peers. As I recently told The 74, keeping schools open for in-person classes is not enough. Schools need better plans for preventing new disruptions from interrupting student learning, which starts with finally closing the digital divide. We’ll continue to monitor and share our data on the pandemic’s inequitable impact on math learning, so policymakers and administrators can make informed decisions about how to get students back on track and close the opportunity gap.

With Omicron, another inequitable shock in math learning.

Read the whitepaper
Written by Shalinee Sharma

Shalinee Sharma is the CEO and co-founder of Zearn Math.