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What parents need to know about declining child test scores during the pandemic

If you’re one of the many parents who had to try to keep track of links, passwords, headphones, and chargers during those early days of online learning, you could probably say the experience didn’t wasn’t going to go well. Watching your kids hang out during Zoom meetings, it didn’t take a master’s degree in education to figure out that they just weren’t learning as much as in person at school.

Now the results – in terms of the children’s academic achievement – ​​are coming in, and the news is not good.

Nationally, test scores dropped significantly in math and reading from 2020 to 2022. Children who had less in-person schooling performed less well, as did black children and children who had inferior results at the start.

Here’s what parents need to know about falling and how to help their kids catch up.

How much ground has been lost during the pandemic?

This year, the National Education Progress Assessment, or “National Report Card,” administered its assessment of long-term trends to 7,400 9-year-olds in 410 schools. The scores reveal an average drop of 5 points in reading and 7 points in math since 2020, the last time the test was given.

It’s the biggest drop in NAEP reading scores since 1990, and the first time math scores have fallen since the test was first administered in 1973.

The drop became more and more steep as the student obtained a lower score. In reading, students ranked in the top 10% saw their scores drop by an average of 2 points, while children whose scores placed them in the bottom 10% saw their scores drop by 10 points in reading. mean. Similarly, in math, children in the top 10% saw their scores drop an average of 3 points, while the bottom 10% lost an average of 12 points.

Not surprisingly, higher-scoring students reported having more access to online learning resources like laptops and high-speed internet, as well as greater confidence in their ability to learn remotely.

When broken down by race and ethnicity, black, white and Hispanic students all saw their reading scores drop by 6 points. But in math, black students’ scores fell an average of 13 points, compared to 5 points for white students and 8 points for Hispanic students.

Individual state test scores tell a similar story, with a significant drop in the number of students meeting the academic criteria.

In an analysis of third- through eighth-grade test scores from 11 states, economist and best-selling writer Emily Oster and her co-authors found an average drop of 12.8 percentage points in test pass rates. mathematics, and an average drop of 6.8 percentage points for English Language Arts.

Newly released data from Oregon shows that 43.6% of students passed ELA exams this year and 30.4% passed math, compared to pass rates of 53.4% ​​and 39.4% in 2019, respectively. .

It is important to note that the data varies a bit between states.

What factors have contributed to the decline in test scores?

The data confirms what most parents suspected: in-person school is more effective for children than remote learning.

Oster and his co-authors found that the less students learned in person, the more their test scores declined.

“These learning losses happened, and they were greater in areas where school was far away,” Oster told HuffPost. “If parents are unsure of the value of in-person schooling for their children, that clearly shows its value.”

By comparing the number of students who passed these tests in small geographies, they found that districts with full remote schooling lost an additional 13 points in their math test pass rates compared to districts that had full distance schooling. in person. In reading, there was a further loss of 8 points in pass rates.

These findings, Oster said, “underscore the tremendous value of in-person interaction in schools.”

They “can also illustrate the importance of focus and of teachers and schools as places of safety and security,” she said. “It is difficult to know to what extent the problem with the remote school was simply that the children were not here or not being able to be fully present.

With students now back in their school buildings, there are already encouraging signs of reversing this loss. Test results haven’t returned to where they were in 2019, but they are increasing.

“Between the end of 2021 and the end of 2022, we saw – depending on the dataset – something like a third to two-thirds of test score losses recovered,” Oster said.

“It’s good news, in the sense of some recovery,” she added. “It suggests that there is still a lot to do.”

Where do we go from here?

Shael Polakow-Suransky served as Chancellor of New York Schools before becoming President of Bank Street College of Education in 2014.

About the pandemic drop in test results, he said that “if every institution in our society is damaged by the pandemic, we should not be surprised and panicked too much.”

“The things we need to do are clear,” he said. “We need to reconnect children and families to schools.”

Some schools are implementing tutoring programs with federal assistance to help kids catch up, and those can be effective, Polakow-Suransky believes. But “nothing replaces the smooth running of the class”.

“If schools are organized in such a way that children enjoy being there and are engaged in them, they will learn, [and to] catch up,” he said.

A parent might reasonably assume that if a child struggles with reading and math, they should spend more time reading and doing math, not talking about their feelings or playing games with their peers.

But learning doesn’t work like medicine, where you can just increase the dose. The right conditions must be carefully cultivated by a qualified teacher.

It is these interpersonal interactions with adults and peers – what we now call “social-emotional learning” – that children lacked when school went online, and it is these relationships that may now form the foundation of their academic growth.

When we focus on how late kids are or what they can’t do, we risk losing sight of it, Polakow-Suransky said.

Learning loss is not the whole story of the pandemic. Polakow-Suransky suggests that we also ask: “What they learned during this time that they might not have [otherwise]and what strengths do they bring to the table? »

To succeed academically, students “need to be in an environment of trust, interested in what is happening at school, [and] the work has to be both rigorous and challenging, and also very engaging,” he said.

If your child is struggling in school as a result of the pandemic, remember they are not alone – as the data shows, many other children are in the same boat. Look for skill-building activities outside of school that are interesting and engaging, such as reading self-chosen books or doing math while shopping or cooking. Emphasize what your child does well, in addition to encouraging them to practice in areas where they are weak.

It’s always worth checking with your child’s teacher if you have any concerns or are considering hiring a tutor. Building a strong collaborative relationship with their teacher will ultimately help your child learn.

“They need to feel like the people there really know them, care about them and listen to them,” Polakow-Suransky said. “There is no shortcut.”

The Huffington Gt

Not all news on the site expresses the point of view of the site, but we transmit this news automatically and translate it through programmatic technology on the site and not from a human editor.
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