Tuesday, October 25, 2022

Dumbing America Down

Let’s ignore the blame game for now. Yesterday, the National Assessment of Educational Progress announced that the last two years have seen American schoolchildren get dumb and dumber.

The Wall Street Journal reports the bad news:

The 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, according to Education Department data released Monday.

In the most sweeping analysis of test scores since the start of the pandemic, the 2022 National Assessment of Educational Progress, known as the Nation’s Report Card, also revealed a nationwide plunge in reading that wiped out three decades of gains.

It was not entirely new:

Prepandemic declines in academic achievement intensified nationwide, and many longstanding gaps in student achievement grew.

Low-performing fourth-grade students saw larger declines in both math and reading scores compared with high-performing ones. Black and Hispanic students in fourth grade saw larger score drops in math than white students.

What everyone wants to know is: whose fault is it?

Apparently, school systems that stayed open more of the time had relatively equivalent learning loss. And yet, the complexities of the issue suggest that we do best not to jump to conclusions. Keep in mind, all of the children were taught by a band of incompetent teachers, teachers who seem more concerned with teaching critical race theory and gender identity politics than teaching math and reading.

And also, masking children did not help learning, socialization or emotional stability. And then there is the number of children in public vs. private schools. And we must also recognize that some children, when shut out of schools, joined study groups and kept up with their schoolwork. Some did not. As we have often noted, to our chagrin, minority children were most negatively affected by the school shutdowns-- because they did not have the same level of parental support.

The Journal explains:

States that returned to in-person learning relatively quickly, such as Arizona, saw declines along with those that stayed remote longer, such as California. Experts are divided on the degree to which policies such as remote learning affected student achievement.

“It’s extremely complex,” said National Center for Education Statistics Commissioner Peggy Carr. “We have massive, comprehensive declines everywhere.”

Dr. Carr acknowledged difficulties in teaching and learning caused by school closures and remote learning but said the causes of learning loss might also include mental-health challenges faced by students and behavioral problems at schools.

If New Mexico had the worst performing schools, perhaps the reason was that it had many migrant children, children who had not been educated in their countries of origin.

In any event, as we have often pointed out, our nation is involved in an international competition for the best future jobs. The more naive among us imagine that we will easily find educated adults who can do these jobs. As you know, I am doubtful, because America’s schoolchildren are not being educated. If we could analyze the data in more detail, perhaps we can find out how much of the problem was due to school shutdowns and how much of it was due to teachers who embraced the social justice agenda and thereby ruined children’s minds.


Anonymous said...

Of course, the children are getting dumber. They're just following the adults. It's nothing new; George Carlin made jokes about it long ago.

Jane Kinkel said...

Common. Core. I'm a teacher. It's the devil.

SCOTTtheBADGER said...

I am constantly astonished by how dumb our countries young are, yet at the same time, so very arrogant. We may very well be doomed.

Anonymous said...

Retired teacher married to a teacher. We're the trad kind, the ones who have to pick our districts carefully (small town, trad, with decent administrators who will leave us alone), not the other kind. Trust us on this-- it's not innocent kids led astray. Sure, teachers are bad. But admin is worse, and trying to teach inner city kids whose parents don't know or care where they are most of the time is the worst of all --- that's impossible (liked that mention of "behavioral problems.)