More broadly, some say there’s a danger in simply assuming that particular kids have lost ground academically because of their race or family income. That’s because if schools overestimate students’ learning loss, they may fail to give them grade-level work, pushing them even further behind, Chase Nordengren, a senior research scientist with NWEA, told Vox. “Assumptions are really a threat to equity, because they limit the kinds of experiences that students have access to.”

Even as we acknowledge inequities in access, Nordengren said, it’s important to “understand that every student is different, and when we come back this fall, every student’s individual level of proficiency is going to need to be understood really well.”