It is not surprising that due to the pandemic, math and reading scores for 9-year-olds across the country declined. What is surprising, and devastating, is that those numbers between 2020 and 2022 didn’t just drop; they plummeted.
Decades of academic progress were erased. In two years, reading scores on a key national test dropped more sharply than they have in over 30 years, and math scores fell for the first time since the test began in the early 1970s.
“I was taken aback by the scope and the magnitude of the decline,” said Peggy Carr, who heads the National Center for Education Statistics, which administers the test. “The big takeaway is that there really are no increases in achievement in either of the subjects for any student group in this assessment — there were only declines or stagnant scores for the nation’s 9-year-olds.”
The scores come from a long-running version of the National Assessment of Educational Progress, a test known as “the nation’s report card.” It is designed to compare student achievement across decades; the most recent scores were released Thursday.
“It’s clear that COVID-19 shocked American education and stunned the academic growth of this age group,” Carr told reporters on a Wednesday call. “No other factor could have had such a dramatic influence on student achievement in a relatively short period of time.”
Carr said while her team usually shies away from ascribing a reason to score increases or decreases, it’s obvious in this case that the disruptions wrought by the pandemic were a major factor in the declines.
“There is still a widening of the disparity between the top and the bottom performers, but in a different way,” Carr said. “Everyone is dropping. But the students at the bottom are dropping faster.”
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Department of Education Office of Civil Rights opens investigation into Harvard University
On Tuesday the United States Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights opened an investigation into Harvard University in order to determine if the school has fulfilled legal obligation to respond to the increase in antisemitic incidents after Hamas’ brutal attack on Israel on October 7th.
The university agreed to cooperate with the investigation in a statement issued Wednesday. “We support the work of the Office for Civil Rights to ensure students’ rights to access educational programs are safeguarded and will work with the office to address their questions,” the statement read.
The DOE has also opened investigations into Columbia University, Cornell University, Wellesley College, and the University of Pennsylvania this month over “discrimination involving shared ancestry” under Title VI.
the investigation was prompted after a complaint which stated Harvard “discriminated against students on the basis of their national origin (shared Jewish ancestry and/or Israeli) when it failed to respond appropriately to reports of incidents of harassment,”
National Review reports that while the Office of Civil Rights does not typically disclose which specific complaints prompted an investigation, there have been several high-profile incidents of antisemitism at Harvard and other Ivy league universities in recent weeks.
Hedge fund manager Bill Ackman sent an open letter to Harvard president Claudine Gay earlier this month which cited the confrontation at the “die-in” and urged her to take action to protect Jewish students.
“Jewish students are being bullied, physically intimidated, spat on, and in several widely-disseminated videos of one such incident, physically assaulted,” Mr. Ackman wrote. “On-campus protesters on the Widener Library steps and elsewhere shout, ‘Intifada! Intifada! Intifada! From the River to the Sea, Palestine Shall be Free!’”
Harvard President Claudine Gay released a statement about “combatting antisemitism” on November 9:
“I affirm our commitment to protecting all members of our community from harassment and marginalization, and our commitment to meeting antisemitism head-on, with the determination it demands,” Gay said. “Let me reiterate what I and other Harvard leaders have said previously: Antisemitism has no place at Harvard.”
Among the antisemitic events that have circulated national news are how just days after the Hamas attack, a 19-year-old Columbia student was arrested for allegedly assaulting an Israeli student who was trying to prevent the suspect from tearing down posters of Israeli hostages. Also at Cornell, a 21-year-old student was arrested for allegedly threatening to murder and rape his Jewish classmates on an anonymous online message board.
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