Two years ago, I reported the disheartening results of NAEP, the Nation’s Report card):”Only 35% of the fourth graders test at or above the Proficient level. The math scores were only slightly better, with 41% reaching proficiency” The scores for eighth grade were no better. Only 34% demonstrated proficiency in each subject.
Unfortunately, the downward spiral has continued. School closures imposed for twelve to eighteen months have further ravaged the already declining educational landscape. The current NAEP statement provides indisputable proof: “The 2022 mathematics scores show the largest declines in 4th, and 8th grade achievement since assessment began.” And the reading results are no better. “The 2022 reading scores are lower in 2019 at grades 4 and 8.” Moreover, the disparity in scores among students of different backgrounds is alarming. “The gaps in reading and math scores between white and African American students , , , grew to 27 and 42 points in 2023.”“Students scoring at the 25th and 10th percentiles have tumbled by a truly stunning margin: 19 and 27 points, respectively.”
So, how can this disturbing trend be reserved? Might the solution be a return to the basics and accountability! Teachers should return to a concentrated focus on math and reading starting in pre-school and continuing vigorously every year, with particular emphasis on math skills. A government study from over a decade ago demonstrated: “Preschool children’s knowledge of math predicts later school success into high school and is a better predictor of later reading achievement than early reading skills.” Rather than limiting algebra in middle school, as the San Francisco schools are still doing, provide more access to this subject. A California study from three years ago stated. ““Enrolling in 8th-grade algebra boosts students’ enrollment in advanced math in ninth grade by 30 percentage points and eleventh grade by 16 percentage points.”
Is anyone paying attention? Our students deserve better NOW!