Topics: Faculty, Miller College of Business, Research, Students

December 14, 2023

2018 Muncie Community Schools second-grade classroom

A new study from Ball State University’s Center for Business and Economic Research (CBER) shows that the effects of learning loss suffered by students in Indiana public schools as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic continue to be felt statewide.

School Learning Loss in the Post-COVID Environment,” published this week, utilizes Indiana Learning Evaluation Assessment Readiness Network (iLEARN) test scores from the 2021-22 and 2022-23 school years to measure learning loss  for Indiana public K-12 schools.

The study was conducted by CBER researchers Drs. Michael Hicks and Dagney Faulk and Madelyn Ponsier, a CBER student research assistant. It builds on previous research that focused on learning loss in Indiana schools from 2019 to 2021, the first test year after the start of the pandemic.

Among the more significant conclusions in this week’s study are that learning loss recovery across Indiana schools has continued at a slow and uneven pace.

“We were surprised at the persistence of learning loss since COVID,” Dr. Hicks said. “Recovery in test scores has been modest across the state, with little to suggest a full recovery is on the way.”

Among other key findings from the most recent study:

  • Poverty—and not race, ethnicity, or other factors—continues to be the primary determinant of learning loss. “This result is consistent across grades, years, and subject,” said Dr. Hicks, CBER’s director and the George & Frances Ball Distinguished Professor of Economics in the Miller College of Business. “This gives policymakers a point at which to target resources.”
  • Outlier analysis showed little difference in the determinants of learning loss between high- and low-performing schools. “So, there is not some easy formula to point to for recovery,” Dr. Hicks added.
  • In both studies, according to Dr. Faulk, CBER’s director of research: “One interesting finding is that the biggest absolute learning loss since COVID occurred was in the schools that were the highest performing before the pandemic.” This, according to Dr. Faulk, is “pretty strong evidence that COVID most heavily impacted school-specific elements of learning.”

Since its inception in 1970, Ball State’s Center for Business and Economic Research has been a trusted source for high-quality, nonpartisan, data-focused research, analysis, and visualization.

For more information, visit the CBER website, call 765-285-5926, or email