The kids are not all right: Post-pandemic 4th-grade test scores suffer worst drop in decades

Source: Hot Air

Hey, whatever happened to “kids are resilient”? “Online learning is just as good as classroom education”?  The nightmare that parents have reported anecdotally over the last two years got confirmed by the Department of Education. Fourth-grade test scores dropped dramatically in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, school closures, and mask mandates, the Wall Street Journal reports, and these children may never make it all the way back:

The Education Department’s first look at test-score trends since the pandemic began reveals the worst drop in math and reading scores in decades for students in fourth grade, a crucial indicator for educational and economic trajectory.

Scores released Thursday show unprecedented drops on the long-term trends tests that are part of the National Assessment of Educational Progress, known as the “Nation’s Report Card.” The tests are administered to U.S. students age 9.

The test scores reflect more than a pandemic problem, with experts saying it could take a generation for some scores to rebound. Some say current achievement levels could weigh on economic output in years to come.

The scores of lower-performing students are most troubling and could take decades to bounce back, said Dr. Aaron Pallas, professor of Sociology and Education at Teachers College, Columbia University.

“I don’t think we can expect to see these 9-year-olds catch up by the time they leave high school,” he said, referring to the lower-performing students. “This is not something that is going to disappear quickly.”

There may be more going on here than the pandemic, but it’s crystal clear what the main issue is. Other factors could include the increasingly politicized cultural emphasis in schools rather than a focus on basics, a point parents have been raising for the last year or more. Distracting and age-inappropriate sexual pressure may play a part in it. But to some extent those factors existed prior to the pandemic, whereas the dramatic drop following almost two years of closures and restricted access to in-person education is very clearly the differentiator.

That becomes even more obvious when looking at where scores fell furthest. The WSJ doesn’t mention school closures, but the New York Times report on these test scores does mention them in a specific context. Who got hardest hit by the pandemic?

High and low performers had been diverging even before the pandemic, but now, “the students at the bottom are dropping faster,” Dr. Carr said.

In math, Black students lost 13 points, compared with five points among white students, widening the gap between the two groups. Research has documented the profound effect school closures had on low-income students and on Black and Hispanic students, in part because their schools were more likely to continue remote learning for longer periods of time.

Isn’t that … interesting?

Meanwhile, we are hearing zero remorse and zero accountability from the people in the science and education establishments who insisted on keeping schools closed. We knew very early in the pandemic, thanks to research in the UK, that children were not at risk for acute COVID-19 infections without multiple co-morbidities present, and that schools in any case were not vectors for community transmission. Even so, the Follow The Science crowd insisted on keeping children out of classrooms for well over a year in some parts of the US, and are still insisting on masking up even though mask-wearing in practice does practically nothing to stop transmission.

To this day, they defend those decisions, which were based not on actual science, but on fear and self-interest. And at least until now, they have steadfastly denied that the closures and restrictions had any lasting impact on children.

For that matter, until now parents didn’t have any real opportunities for accountability for those policy decisions that damaged the educational trajectory for their children. That has changed in Florida, thanks to Charlie Crist’s unerring political instinct to take the exact wrong turn at the exact worst time:

Karla Hernández-Mats ran the teachers union in Miami. When Ron DeSantis fought to keep schools open in Florida to prevent just this outcome with children, how did Hernández-Mats respond?

Florida voters will get the first crack at delivering accountability to the education and “science” establishment over the sacrifice of a generation of children for their comfort. I doubt they will let us down.