The pandemic may be fading but not its academic aftereffects…

 **** According to Attendance Works, 16 million students missed at least 18 days of school in the 2021-21 school year, twice as many as before the pandemic. That means that 33% of kids were chronically absent that year when schools were back to in-person instruction. That translates to less learning and test scores falling back to 2011-12 levels. Hardest hit: low-income students.

**** Piling on, there’s this from Karyn Lewis, director of the Center for School and Student Progress at NWEA: “We have a larger magnitude of unfinished learning in high-poverty schools and for historically marginalized students…” Plus, she adds, “Once the federal recovery funds are gone in 2024, I’m seeing continuing gaps widening for historically marginalized student groups who were also the hardest hit by the pandemic.”

**** The class of 2022’s ACT composite test score of 19.8 out of 36 marks the first time since 1991 that it has fallen below 20. Moreover, 42% of ACT-tested 2022 grads met none of the benchmarks in English, science, and math, up from 38% of test takers in 2021.

**** The Associated Press reports that, according to recent data, the number of students held back has surged. In South Carolina, West Virginia, and Delaware, retention doubled. Meanwhile though, many parents “have asked for do-overs to help their children recover from the tumult of remote learning, quarantines, and school staff shortages.”

About retention, Arthur Reynolds, professor at the University of Minnesota’s Human Capital Research Collaborative, says that the risk of such kids dropping out eventually doubles. He adds, “Kids see it as punishment. It reduces their academic motivation, and it doesn’t increase their instructional advancement.”

**** “Students’ Math and Reading Plummet, Erasing Years of Gains, National Assessment Finds,” shouts the headline of Education Week’s Sarah Schwartz recent article:

  • According to the National Assessment of Educational Progress’s (NAEP) Long-Term Trend Test: “Over the past two years, math scores dropped by seven points—the first-ever decline in the long-term trend assessment’s 50-year history.
  • On that test, reading scores fell by 5 points, the biggest drop since 1990.
  • White students’ math scores fell 5 points; Black students’ scores fell 13 points. That widens the gab between the two groups from 25 points in 2020 to 33 points in 2022.

*** The NWEA tracked the progress of 8.3 million students nationwide in grades 3 through 8 from 2015-16 to 2021-22. That school year, students began progressing in reading and math closer to their pre-pandemic performance, BUT the small improvement came in the elementary grades.

**** And finally comes Education Week’s “School Sports Participation Drops Raising Concerns about “Physical Learning Loss,” by Sarah Sparks. According to the National Federation of State High School Associations, in the 2021-22 school year, there was a 4% drop in participation since 2018-19, ‘with girls’ sports losing more athletes than boys’ sports.”

Moreover, “Nationwide federal health data show less than a third of children ages 6 to 17 in families with incomes below the federal poverty level played sports versus 70% of children in families with incomes more than four times the federal poverty level.”

It just never ends…

~ Carol