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Nation’s Education Report Card reveals U.S. has ‘wiped out three decades of gains’

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Education Department data released Monday shows our nation’s schools recorded the “largest drop in math scores ever this year, with fourth- and eighth-grade students in nearly every state showing significant declines” reports the Wall Street Journal.

Know as the ‘Nation’s Report Card’ the 2022 National Assessment of Educational Progress, revealed the nationwide plunge in reading “wiped out three decades of gains.”

Low-performing fourth-grade students saw larger declines in both math and reading scores compared with high-performing ones. Black and Hispanic students in the fourth grade saw larger score drops in math than white students. “White students were the only racial group with declines at eighth-grade reading. Gaps in math widened between fourth-grade students who are eligible for free and reduced-price lunches and those who aren’t.”

Federal test results released in September revealed the largest drop in fourth-grade reading scores since 1990 and the first-ever decline in math.

Fordham Institute President Michael Petrilli said the results should serve as a wake-up call for policy makers and school-district officials around the country. “It’s a huge deal,” he said. “We have lost a huge amount of the progress that we have been making over the course of decades and it’s going to take years to catch up.”

The actual numbers are astounding. “Average math scores for eighth-graders in 2022 dropped to 274 out of a possible 500, falling 8 points from 2019. Reading scores declined 3 points, to 260.”

“No state or jurisdiction posted gains in math in either grade, nor did any of the 26 large districts included in the analysis. Utah was the only state where the drop in the eighth-grade math score wasn’t statistically significant. Nationwide, 38% of eighth-graders tested below basic achievement levels in math. The basic level denotes partial mastery.”

Of particular note was the Fourth-grade which had the lowest average reading score. “The tests, administered to U.S. students ages 9 and 13, are regarded as key indicators for student achievement and future trajectory. Achieving reading proficiency by fourth grade is critical because students at that point must use reading to learn other subjects. Math proficiency in eighth grade is one of the most significant predictors of success in high school, educators said.”

Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona said the scores were “a reminder of the impact this pandemic had on our learners” and urged districts to intensify recovery efforts such as tutoring.

The Wall Street Journal reports:

State-by-state comparisons of public-school scores show Massachusetts remained the top performer in most categories while New Mexico earned the lowest scores in every category.

A spokeswoman for the New Mexico Public Education Department said the state is investing in efforts to boost achievement including raising teacher pay.

Los Angeles was the only place—city or state—to show a significant increase in eighth-grade reading. Superintendent Alberto Carvalho said factors including strong attendance for online courses and summer classes contributed to improved reading scores there.

Detroit remained the worst performer in all categories among urban districts, while Cleveland experienced the steepest drops in fourth grade. Cleveland Metropolitan School District CEO Eric Gordon said low school attendance and high numbers of teachers out sick contributed to the drop in scores in the district.

Educators cited different causes for overall declines:

Existing gaps in opportunity and learning experiences between white students and students of color, as well as between well-funded schools and underfunded ones, worsened in the pandemic, National Education Association President Becky Pringle said.

“Collaborative mathematics is extremely important,” Mr. Miller said. “And, yet, when you’re looking at your peer on a screen, you can’t talk to them, because only one person can talk at a time. There’s not a lot of collaboration going on.”

Students struggled with technology during periods of remote learning and were distracted by sickness and economic hardships in their communities, said Arlyssa Heard, a parent organizer for the advocacy group 482Forward in Detroit.

“It was a crazy time,” Ms. Heard said. “I don’t think anyone should be surprised by these test scores.” the 

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Report: Denver area migrants cost $340 million to shelter, educate

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A report by the free-market Common Sense Institute found the more than 42,000 migrants who have arrived in Denver over the last year and a half have cost the region as much as $340 million. The city of Denver, local school districts, and the region’s health-care system have spent between $216 million and $340 million combined to shelter, feed, clothe, and educate the migrants, and to provide them with emergency medical care.

National Review explains the report builds off a previous report from March that conservatively found that the migrants had cost the region at least $170 million. “Costs are never localized,” said DJ Summers, the institute’s research director. “They expand outward.”

Democratic leaders are being blamed for their welcoming posture toward immigrants generally, and their sanctuary-city policies, which curtail law enforcement’s ability to cooperate with federal immigration agents. Since late December 2022, at least 42,269 migrants — or “newcomers” as Denver leaders call them — have arrived in the city, adds National Review.

The Common Sense Institute report found that the migrant crisis has also hit local emergency rooms hard with extensive expenses. Since December 2022, migrants have made more than 16,000 visits to metro emergency departments. At an estimated cost of about $3,000 per visit, that has resulted in nearly $48 million in uncompensated care.

Summers said those costs are “stressing existing health care organizations,” but they also indirectly hit residents in their pocketbooks through increased insurance prices.

Metro school districts have endured the biggest financial hit — estimated between $98 million and $222 million — according to the Common Sense Institute report. The large range in costs is due to the difficulties researchers had identifying exactly how many new foreign students are tied to the migrant crisis.

The researchers found that since December 2022, 15,725 foreign students have enrolled in local schools. Of those, 6,929 have come from the five countries most closely identified with the migrant crisis — Venezuela, Colombia, El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras.

On average, it costs a little over $14,000 to educate a student for a year in a Denver-area public school, but Summers said migrant students likely cost more.

“They have transportation needs that are different, they have acculturation needs that are going to be different, language assistance needs that are going to be different,” he said. “Many of them might need to get up to speed in curriculum. They might need outside tutoring.”

Earlier this year, Colorado lawmakers approved $24 million in state funding to help school districts statewide plug budget holes related to the migrant students.

Summers said the updated Common Sense Institute tally is likely still missing some costs related to the ongoing migrant crisis.

“There are definitely additional costs. We just don’t have a great way to measure them just yet,” he said, noting legal fees, crime, and unreported business and nonprofit expenses.

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