Poor math and reading scores will fuel the school election movement – sanity | Wonder Mind Kids

Arguments for school choice generally consist of two parts: first, that culture wars over school policies and curriculum content will fade if families can choose them; and second, that students are best served academically when parents are able to choose their children’s educational environments.

While the culture war argument has dominated lately, academic concerns have just received a major boost from new evidence that children are struggling to learn in public schools. That means they are quiet Difficulty learning in public schools.

As Elizabeth Nolan Brown pointed out earlier this week, “new results from the National Assessment of Educational Progress offer further evidence that students have fallen significantly behind during school closures”. The dismal results of the NAEP — a government-mandated test for fourth and eighth graders — are best summed up in the program’s own press release:

According to the latest results from the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), also known as The Nation’s Report Card, released today by , a majority of states saw fourth- and eighth-grader scores decline in math and reading between 2019 and 2022 the US Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics (NCES). The nationwide decline in math performance in fourth and eighth grades was the largest ever recorded for that subject.

The results came as no surprise, as they were telegraphed from an earlier publication of NAEP results for 9-year-olds, which found “the largest drop in average reading scores since 1990 and the first drop in math scores.”

That’s not the end of the bad news. Additionally, “the national average ACT composite score for the high school class of 2022 was 19.8, the lowest average score in more than three decades,” according to data released earlier this month by the nonprofit organization that supports the Administered College Readiness Exam. Also, “the average total SAT score for the Class of 2022 decreased slightly — 1050 compared to 1060 for the Class of 2021,” with only 43 percent of those who took the College Board test, which competes with the ACT, and the benchmarks for met college readiness.

Of course, as test administrators point out, we’ve just gone through a pandemic and the disruptions that come with it. But that’s exactly the point for critics, who have predicted children would suffer from school closures, social distancing, masking and often mismanaged distance learning. In fact, this month’s lousy NAEP results didn’t correlate as closely with government pandemic policies as some had expected. Brown University economist Emily Oster points out that from 2019 to 2022, which includes periods of both pandemic shutdown and return to relative normalcy, states emphasized face-to-face learning in general saw less decline in math results than those who went afar while it”No relationship” to read.

That leaves room for debate as to whether the alleged public health benefits of school closures outweigh the learning losses. But here’s the thing: Whatever the reason, those test results crashed. And no one was particularly thrilled with the results from the public schools before COVID-19 appeared on the scene.

“Anyone following the course of modern school reform won’t be too surprised by this news: Newly released SAT results show that reading, writing and even math scores are down from last year and have been falling for years.” , wrote Valerie Strauss for the Washington Post way back in 2011. “And critical reading scores are the lowest in 40 years.”

Public schools didn’t need masks, Zoom classes, and social distancing to do a terrible job of educating students; they did it all by themselves long before the pandemic. The virus gave them a powerful nudge downhill, but they were already slipping. That’s a big part of the impetus behind the movement to empower families to choose their children’s education without having to pay twice: first for public schools and second for alternatives they deem superior. Even as politics slowly changed and most families choosing educational alternatives still had to pay public school taxes, the election gained ground.

“In the United States, parents have an increasing number of educational options for their children, including traditional public schools, charter public schools, private schools, and homeschooling,” the 2019 NCES pre-COVID-19 note. “Although the majority of students attend traditional public schools, the number of students attending public charter schools or homeschool programs is increasing, according to recently released data.”

Since then, data from NCES and independent sources continues to show that public schools are losing ground while learning options are gaining support.

“All three alternatives to district schools — charter, private, and homeschool — appear to have benefited from the shift away from district school,” according to Harvard University education next reported in August of this year after a parent survey. “The proportion of private schools increased to 10 percent in 2022, compared to 8 percent in the spring of 2020. The proportion of charter schools increased from 5 percent to 7 percent over the same period, while the proportion of homeschooling rose from 7 percent to the surprisingly high 6th percent level registered in 2020, which itself was a doubling of the 3 percent figure reported by the US Department of Education in 2016.

District public schools still hold the lion’s share of students at about 77 percent. But that proportion falls with test scores, even as fatigue over classroom and school policy debates grows. Pandemic measures, coinciding with the growing debate over politicized curriculum, have made the issue even more pressing for parents, who would much rather direct their children’s education than squabble with school administrators and other parents.

Many state-level officials have made efforts to accommodate families who want options. Arizona and West Virginia recently passed policies that allow education funding to follow students to private schools and homeschooling. School choice has become a major issue in campaigns for public office over the past year after playing a major role in Virginia’s 2021 gubernatorial campaign.

And now we have miserable NAEP results to underscore the weaknesses of public schools and the need for competition and choice in education. There’s nothing about crashing in math and reading scores to reassure parents worried their kids aren’t learning at school. And the fights are over why are less important than decisions about them what to do next. For many families, this means abandoning public services that have failed their children in favor of educational options of their own choosing.

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