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COVID-19 a blow for students across US

By BELINDA ROBINSON in New York | China Daily Global | Updated: 2022-10-25 10:59

US students' test scores nationwide fell dramatically in math and reading among fourth and eighth graders, exposing the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on education after remote learning.

The decline in math test scores was the worst ever recorded since the 1990s by the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP).

Test scores were disappointing in every state, among every demographic whether they had been low or high performing students.

Four in 10 eighth graders polled couldn't understand basic math. No state showed improvements in math, the report found. Reading levels fell to levels not seen since 1992.

Peggy Carr, commissioner of the National Center for Education Statistics, which administers NAEP, said the declines in math were "troubling". "It's a serious wake-up call for us all," Carr said in a statement.

US Education Secretary Miguel Cardona described the results as "appalling and unacceptable" in a call with reporters. "This is a moment of truth for education," he said. "How we respond to this will determine not only our recovery, but our nation's standing in the world."

The results from the respected tests — dubbed the nation's report card —showed that math scores for eighth graders fell by eight points, from 282 in 2019 to 274 this year on a 500-point scale.

Among those in fourth grade, scores fell by five points, the largest decline recorded in half a century of testing.

Reading scores also fell in more than half the states. Just one in three students met proficiency standards.

"When we experience a 1- or 2-point decline, we're talking about it as a significant impact on a student's achievement," Carr said. "In math, we experienced an 8-point decline — historic for this assessment."

Millions of students had to adjust to being taught remotely amid the pandemic. In 2021, most US school children returned to school buildings, but new variants of COVID-19 forced schools to lockdown frequently causing disruption.

Last year, the country was divided over how quickly schools should reopen as public health experts debated if it was safe. Conservative Republicans mostly wanted schools open, while liberal Democrats wanted to wait.

Mo Canady, executive director of the National Association of School Resource Officers (NASRO), has trained school-based law enforcement officers, school administrators and school security and safety professionals to protect schools and students, faculty, and staff since 1991.

He told China Daily that his staff had seen children having severe problems adjusting back to school after the pandemic.

The exam by NAEP is conducted every two years. This year it was done by federal officials between January and March. It used samples from nearly 450,000 fourth and eighth graders in more than 10,000 schools nationwide.

The test scores showed slight differences by state, but they aren't definitive.

In Los Angles, the nation's second-largest school district which was cautious in reopening schools, eighth-grade reading scores went up by 9 points.

To address growing problems, President Joe Biden's administration increased investment in American schools by giving $123 billion, or approximately $2,400 per student.

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