by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
What a calamity. The first post-pandemic results of the National Assessment of Educational Progress are in. And they show that pandemic-era school shutdowns and remote schooling did enormous damage to the education of young people.
Only 26 percent of eighth-graders were proficient in math, down from 34 percent three years ago. Math proficiency in fourth-graders also declined considerably, from 41 percent before the pandemic to 36 percent after. Reading proficiency similarly declined.
Gone forever are the days when educrats assured the public that kids are resilient and will adapt and bounce back from the pandemic.
“I want to be very clear: The results in today’s nation’s report card are appalling and unacceptable,” said Miguel Cardona, the secretary of education. “This is a moment of truth for education. How we respond to this will determine not only our recovery, but our nation’s standing in the world.”
The declines were not evenly distributed nationwide. New York City, which had longer periods of Zoom school and imposed masks on children until very recently, experienced a record drop in math scores. Washington, D.C., and Maryland saw double-digit declines in fourth- and eighth-grade math. Meanwhile, Florida’s governor Ron DeSantis, an early opponent of school closures, is spiking the football. Florida achieved its highest-ever rankings in fourth- and eighth-grade math and reading.
The federal government spent $123 billion last year on public schools in an effort to help children catch up from Covid-era learning loss. These test results show the effort failed.
A New York Times report on the results fretted, “The test results could be seized as political fodder — just before the midterms — to re-litigate the debate over how long schools should have stayed closed, an issue that galvanized many parents and teachers.”