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Decades Of Student Progress Wiped Out; National Math And Reading Scores At Historic Lows: Report

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by Tyler Durden
Wednesday, Oct 26, 2022 - 07:40 PM

Authored by Terri Wu via The Epoch Times (emphasis ours),

National math test scores in fourth and eighth grades showed the biggest drop since a national testing program began in 1990, and the reading level for the same grades reverted to a level from three decades ago.

Educator Scott Slivken helps his students solve math problems as he holds virtual office hours with his sixth grade students at the KIPP DC's Northeast Academy from his apartment in Washington on April 7, 2020. (Alex Edelman/AFP via Getty Images)

Eighth-grade math performance has dropped eight points since 2019, and about a third of students in both grades can’t read at the minimum required level, according to the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) report.

NAEP, also known as the “Nation’s Report Card,” is the only national and continuing assessment program administered by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) of the Department of Education. The Nation’s Report Card is the gold standard for measuring student academic achievements. The results released on Oct. 24 were based on tests administered in the spring.

Peggy Carr, the National Center for Education Statistics commissioner, presents national math and reading test results of fourth and eighth graders of the Nation’s Report Card in Washington, on Oct. 24, 2022. (Screenshot via The Epoch Times)

Peggy Carr, the NCES commissioner who presented the math and reading test results, said the eight-point decline in eighth-grade math was “troubling” and “significant.” According to her, a two and three-point drop is considered significant at the national level.

She began her presentation with contexts of the testing results: the pandemic, reduced in-person learning, and increased mental health needs of students. She said she would have to talk to reading experts to find out why students’ reading performance lost 30 years of progress.

Bottom fourth-grade math performers have shown more significant drops since 2019. For eighth-graders in all percentiles, the performance declines are even. (National Assessment of Educational Progress; Screenshot via The Epoch Times)

“We are talking about a really serious erosion of children’s capacities to read and count in the next generation of the workforce,” Beverly Perdue, former governor of North Carolina and chair of the National Assessment Governing Board, which sets policies and achievement levels for the Nation’s Report Card, said during a media event at the National Press Club in Washington on Oct. 2. “So this becomes a global economic issue for America.”

U.S. Education Secretary Miguel Cardona called the results “appalling” and “unacceptable.”

“This is a moment of truth for education,” he told reporters in a pre-release briefing on Oct. 21.

In a statement, Perdue said students’ learning gaps “predated—but were exacerbated by the pandemic.”

Dr. Vicki Alger, a policy adviser for the Heartland Institute, agreed.

“We should be careful not to make COVID school closures the whole story. School closures made an already bad situation worse. Alarming proportions of students are still not proficient in the core subjects of math and reading,” she told The Epoch Times.

“We’re also seeing the continuing pattern of lower proficiency rates among eighth-graders compared to fourth-graders. We would expect to see children’s subject-level mastery improving the longer they’re in school, but we’re still seeing the opposite instead.”

Virginia Takes Actions

The Nation’s Report Card also provides a platform for peer comparisons across states. Virginia saw the sharpest decline in the nation in fourth-grade reading scores, 13.6 points since 2017 and three times the national average.

Impact of raising and lowering standards in fourth-grade reading performance (Source: Virginia state Superintendent Jillian Balow’s presentation)

“We must acknowledge the glaring reality that we face together: our nation’s children have experienced catastrophic learning loss, and Virginia students are among the hardest hit,” Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin said at a press event in Richmond on Oct. 24. “We also must clearly recognize that the underpinnings to this catastrophic performance were decisions that were made long before we had ever heard of COVID-19.”

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