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Nation’s Report Card Shows Alarming Regression in Reading, Math

Education

Classroom | Image by Shutterstock

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The latest National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), also known as the “nation’s report card,” showed that schoolchildren across the country experienced a dramatic amount of learning loss experienced during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The percentages of schoolchildren performing below the NAEP’s “Basic” level in reading and mathematics spiked significantly, according to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES).

Roughly 25% of fourth graders failed to perform at even a “Basic” standard in math. In 2019, before the closure of schools, 19% of fourth graders were unable to demonstrate basic proficiency in math.

Eighth graders did even worse, with 38% of students below standard in math, compared to 31% of eighth graders three years prior.

In reading, the number of failing students increased by 3% in both the fourth and the eighth grades, with 37% of fourth graders and 30% of eighth graders coming up short.

“It is a serious wakeup call for us all,” said NCES commissioner Peggy Carr, speaking with NBC 5.

“In NAEP, when we experience a 1- or 2-point decline, we’re talking about it as a significant impact on a student’s achievement,” she stated, referring to the assessment’s scaled scoring. “In math, we experienced an 8-point decline — historic for this assessment.”

For its part, Texas held steady in its reading scores but clocked a decline of 5 points in math, statistically similar to the national average.

While there are no Dallas-specific results readily available, based on other data, likely students at Dallas Independent School District (DISD) who took the NAEP experienced a significant decline in reading and math proficiency rates.

The district’s STAAR scores, for instance, speak for themselves and hint at DISD’s likely NAEP performance.

As previously reported in The Dallas Express, DISD’s STAAR scores tanked between 2019 and 2021, with the percentage of fourth and eighth graders performing “at grade level or above” sinking significantly in reading and math.

The most recent STAAR scores for the district paint a dismal picture, with only 41% of all STAAR test-takers across grades scoring “at grade level or above.”

While DISD might be a sobering stand-out as far as bigger Texas school districts go, the learning loss phenomenon has been experienced nationwide.

Daniel McGrath, NCES’s acting associate commissioner for assessment, stated, “If left unaddressed, this could alter the trajectories and life opportunities of a whole cohort of young people, potentially reducing their abilities to pursue rewarding and productive careers in mathematics, science, and technology.”

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