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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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Economy

Michigan asks residents to house migrants, enroll children in school and help adults find employment

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Michigan is asking its residents to help with the mess its leadership created and house migrants in their own homes. The state Department of Labor and Economic Development said volunteers who participate must commit for at least 90 days as part of the refugee support program.

In addition to opening up their homes, sponsors are expected to support newly arrived refugees by greeting them at the airport, securing and preparing initial housing, enrolling children in school and helping adults find employment.

“Programs like the Welcome Corps advance the Office of Global Michigan’s mission to make Michigan the home for opportunity for our immigrant, refugee and ethnic communities,” said Poppy Hernandez, Global Michigan Director and Michigan’s Chief Equity and Inclusion Officer. “Expanded refugee resettlement pathways empower more Michiganders to support our state’s growing refugee population and build a more welcoming and inclusive Michigan for all.”

The migrants will come from Cuba, Haiti, Nicaragua and Venezuela, all points of origin where many have been hoping to apply for asylum at the U.S.-Mexico border.

Fox News reports “cities like New York and Chicago have also dealt with issues related to migrants committing crimes, as well as pushback from residents who have voiced anger and concern over the influx. Migrant shelters in those cities have largely been full, forcing officials to come up with ways to safely house the migrants.”

Last year, Massachusetts officials asked residents to open their doors as migrant shelters were full at the time. “Most importantly, if you have an extra room or suite in your home, please consider hosting a family. Housing and shelter is our most pressing need and become a sponsor family,” said Massachusetts Lt. Governor Kim Driscoll.

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