With midterms always just days away, why aren’t any candidates concerned about distance learning moves across the country? In the last week, many news outlets have published articles about learning disabilities based on national test scores. One study predicts that eighth graders’ abysmal math scores may reflect more than just learning loss. “Other important life trends, including high school graduation, college enrollment, and criminal arrests, are also likely to worsen over the years frustrated by training.”
For those like union boss Randi Weingarten, who continue to perpetuate the narrative that learning loss is not really a flow, and we must forgive those who set and supported bad policies, much more is in doubt on November 8, 2022. While this political operative is pressing. issues bordering on student issues and millions of dollars going to support candidates, none of the candidates on either side of the aisle are talking about education in a real way.
Pennsylvania is not immune to this national trend, in large part because of the myopic actions of Superintendent Wolf, who has closed schools and encouraged districts to stay closed long after evidence shows that children and teachers are safer at school.
Results from the Pennsylvania School Assessment System (PSSA) reveal that children across the state are experiencing significant learning disabilities. More importantly, the vulnerable and the educationally poor have suffered the most, students who may fall ill after experiencing the greatest losses.
PSSA scores from 2020-2021 compared to 2018-2019 (tests not administered in 2019-2019) show a higher decline in all areas assessed, including English Language Arts, math, and science. English language arts and math are administered to all students in grades three through eight, and science testing is administered to all students in grades four and eight, although parents may opt out of their children for a variety of reasons.
Before covid, the opt-in process was more difficult, but during the lockdowns, the Department of Education (PDE) under the Wolf administration eased the opt-out process. This decrease in administered tests has created an easy excuse for administration and professional colleges to explain and justify the significant loss of teaching. According to PDE, reductions in tests range from 24% to 31% depending on the level.
Of the students who received an overall English language proficiency score, their science score dropped by 4.7 percent, and their math score dropped by 9.75 percent.
While those numbers may not seem significant, they are averages, and the level of specific results is rather surprising. Fourth and seventh graders took the biggest hits in learning loss. Fourth graders dropped 7 percent in English language arts and 10.6 percent in math. Seventh graders dropped 7.1 percent in English language arts and 11.3 percent in math.
School administrations and teachers’ associations are trying to blame these results on the number of test scores, arguing that parents of students who may have chosen to leave their children with higher scores. But they cannot use that reasoning to explain the significant increase in students scoring “below basic.” According to the PDE, “Below the Basic Level reflects inadequate academic training, and work at this level demonstrates minimal ability to apply the knowledge, skills, and practices outlined in the Pennsylvania standards.”
For the 2020-21 school year, nearly ten percent of all students tested below basic English Language Arts. About 17 percent of all students tested were below the science elements and were wrong 38 percent they were below basic in math. Eighth grade math students at worst 53.5 percent students scoring below basic. Additionally, 11.4 percent of eighth graders scored below basic in English language arts, and 26.7 percent scored below basic in science.
How are those eighth graders doing this year in high school? There is no doubt that they are either emotionally trapped or backward in their academic pursuits. Based on the above study, these test scores may reflect more serious consequences than simply learning loss. How many students drop out or don’t attend college or trade school? How many children will turn to crime and illegal activities as a result of these plans?
Regardless of the number of students tested, these results are irrefutably related to school closures and remote learning. These policies have failed our children, our most vulnerable, and politicians like Randi Weingarten want us to forgive the politicians who created this mess and potentially irrevocably damaged an entire generation of children. But we must hold all elected officials accountable for this unmitigated disaster and demand that every candidate be able to reform the speech.
So where are the headlines? Where is the campaign that promises to make children better? Why does neither party flow to education as a midterm?
We don’t need elected officials and government leaders who are committed to learning about the losses and the accompanying problems by delivering real solutions. School choice is one part of fixing a broken system, but much more needs to be done. There are many important issues this November, but none are as important as the education of our children. Taranto and our entire country will always be as strong as the quality of our education and young minds.
Ignoring the education in the midterms is despicable, and every course the candidate failed the exam.
Beth Ann Rosica holds the Sen. in education and devoted his career to advocating for slave children and families. He owns and operates a consulting business with his family in West Chester, Pa.