In a predictable, yet shocking result, the latest National Education Progress Assessment scores show the biggest drop in maths in three decades.
In math, eighth-graders’ NAEP scores fell eight points from 2019 to 2022, according to results released Monday. Only 26% of eighth graders are now proficient in math, down from 33% in 2019.
Fourth-graders saw a five-point drop in math, with the percentage of good performers falling from 41% to 36%.
In fourth- and eighth-grade reading, students’ NAEP scores fell three points from 2019 to 2022. Thirty-three percent of fourth-grade students achieved reading fluency in 2022, down from 35% in 2019. Among eighth graders, reading fluency increased from 34% to 31%. It’s true, less than a third of eighth graders can now read properly.
Overall, 49 of 50 states had statistically significant declines in eighth-grade math; 33 states had statistically significant declines in eighth grade reading. The declines in some states have been particularly acute:
- Delaware fourth graders were the worst in math, dropping 14 points, the equivalent of a year and a half of progress.
- Fourth-graders in Maryland, New Mexico, New York, Virginia, and the District of Columbia lost more than a year of math learning (minus 10 points).
- Virginia fourth-graders dropped 10 points in reading.
- Eighth graders in Oklahoma dropped 13 points in math, while eighth graders in Delaware and West Virginia dropped 12 points. Those in Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey and Pennsylvania lost 11 points.
- Eighth graders in Colorado, Connecticut, Kansas, Maine, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Vermont, Washington and the District of Columbia dropped 10 points in math.
As educational researcher Ben DeGrow pointed out, eighth-grade math results on the National Assessment of Educational Progress are devastating. Ninety percent of states lost at least half a year of math learning, with 18 states losing an entire year. DeGrow notes that only Utah schools and Department of Defense schools were spared the decline.
The declines in math and reading on the “core” NAEP follow the declines in math and reading reported in September on the NAEP long-term trend assessment of 9-year-olds.
Although scores fell in almost every state to a greater or lesser degree, as Marty West of Harvard University found, student scores fell more on average in states where learning at distance was more prevalent. The relationship between distance learning and learning decline is negative and statistically significant, but the strength of the correlation is weak, with distance education explaining less than 10% of the variation in test scores, according to the West’s analysis.
Which means the drop in test scores is most likely a combination of bad policies: teacher union-induced school closures that require emergency distance learning, as well as the concern of special interest groups. for radical gender ideology and critical race theory during this crisis.
As early as fall 2020, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that in-person learning was rarely a source of COVID-19 outbreaks. Still, teachers’ unions continued to fight to keep schools closed, some even doing so this year in places like Chicago, Detroit and Boston.
And when they decided to commit to distance learning, parents could hear the accusation of “anti-racism” guru Ibram X. Kendi echoing on their child’s laptop after a lesson on the gender unicorn.
A positive point exists: Catholic schools. While public school policies have resulted in historic declines in learning over the past two years, Catholic schools have preserved student success.
For example, students in Catholic schools saw no drop in fourth grade math, while public school students lost five points. Although public school students lost three points in eighth grade reading, Catholic school students actually gained one point.
These scores matter. As economist Eric Hanushek has demonstrated, educational outcomes predict future economic growth. Higher scores on the National Assessment of Educational Progress test in a given state portends higher economic growth in the future.
Yet, as some have joked, “Two weeks to slow the spread” turned into “Two years to flatten a generation.” Unfortunately, new NAEP data proves this to be true.
This piece originally appeared in The Daily Signal