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‘Nation’s Report Card’: Pandemic Disruption Erodes 20 Years of Growth in Math, Reading Scores

‘Nation’s Report Card’: Pandemic Disruption Erodes 20 Years of Growth in Math, Reading Scores

By: Bill Pan

September 1, 2022: American 9-year-olds suffered a dismal drop in their math and reading scores during the COVID-19 pandemic, the latest federal assessment data shows.

The report released Thursday by the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), popularly known as the “Nation’s Report Card,” paints a bleak picture of how decades of academic progress were erased in the past two years, a period marked by prolonged school closures, on-and-off remote learning, and amplified social isolation.

Combining data collected from the winter of 2020—prior to the pandemic and widespread school closure—with that from the winter of 2022, the report shows that average long-term math scores fell for the first time since the test began in the 1970s. Reading scores also saw the biggest decline since the 1980s.

According to a graphic in the report based on the results, the 9-year-old students were performing nearly as well as the 9-year-olds did in math in 1999, and at a reading level similar to those in 2004.

Average scores for age 9 students in 2022 declined 5 points in reading and 7 points in math compared to 2020, marking the largest average score decline in reading since 1990, and the first-ever score decline in math. (National Center for Education Statistics)

The sample included nearly 15,000 9-year-old children from 410 schools. About two-thirds of them were in 4th grade, and the rest were in 3rd grade or below.

Peggy Carr, commissioner of the National Center for Education Statistics, which administers the NAEP, said on a Wednesday press call that the results are “sobering.” She also highlighted the gap between higher- and lower-performing students, which had already been growing before the pandemic.

“There is still a widening of the disparity between the top and the bottom performers, but in a different way,” Carr said. “Everyone is dropping. But the students at the bottom are dropping faster.”

In a Thursday interview with CNN, Education Secretary Miguel Cardona admitted that the sharp decline has to do with the lack of in-person learning.

“That is very alarming. It’s disturbing. But it’s not surprising, keeping in mind a year and a half ago over half of our schools were not open for full-time learning,” Cardona said.

“In-person learning is where we need to focus. We need to double-down our efforts,” he added. “I’m very concerned about those scores and I know that we have the resources now and we need to maintain the same level of urgency we had two years ago to get our students back in, to making sure that our students get support.”

Neither Carr or Cardona mentioned that, despite an extremely low risk of young children suffering severe illness from COVID-19 and concerns over learning loss and mental health problems caused by lockdown policies, powerful unions advocated for the closure of schools and pushed back against their reopening.

It was revealed last year that under the influence of the American Federation of Teachers (AFT), the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) had set unreasonably strict standards on when and how schools should reopen. According to emails obtained and publicized by the New York Post, at least two of AFT’s suggestions were adopted almost word-for-word into the CDC’s final draft of the school reopening guidelines, including one allowing teachers to continue working remotely from home if they live with someone deemed to be at high-risk for COVID-19.

Source: The Epoch Times (Premium)


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