Early Monday morning, reports from the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) showed drops in reading and math scores in fourth- and eighth-graders. The ongoing global pandemic has deeply affected students in the classroom.
Often referred to as “the nation’s report card,” the NAEP exam was administered to over 400,000 students in the United States, with approximately 20,000 test-takers in Texas. The exam is separate from the STAAR; STAAR tests Texas curriculum requirements, while the national exam is administered to students in every state.
For Texas, students’ math scores were down between 2019 and 2022 — eighth-grade scores were down 7 points, and fourth-grade scores were down 5 points. Notably, Texas students’ reading scores remained unchanged from 2019.
In a statement after the scores were released, Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona said they were “a reminder of the impact that this pandemic has had on our learners.”
Of course, it’s not news that students and schools — including Texas classrooms — have suffered from pandemic-related disruptions. As Texas AFT President Zeph Capo said in a statement regarding the scores, almost everyone — adults and children alike — have dealt with immense trauma over the past several years.
“One million Americans have died from COVID-19,” Capo said. “Globally, more than 10.5 million children have lost a caregiver; is it really a wonder that our kids are struggling to focus at school?”
As usual, there has been a rush from pundits and politicians to link these declines to the extended remote learning period that kept students and educators safe. But the decline in test scores in states that stayed virtual longer mirrors that of states like Texas, which rushed back to in-person education over the objections of many school employees, families, and our union.
In his statement, Capo said what’s needed for students to recover from COVID is “trauma response.”
“To truly help our students, we need more resources and support instead of hand wringing,” Capo said. “We need counselors, social workers, psychologists, and wraparound support for students who are dealing with trauma. Instead, we’ve got a state that can’t meet the needs for any of those things in 98% of its schools.”