Education decline a major ‘wake-up call,’ educators say

WASHINGTON, D.C. (CNN) – There’s growing concern about the pandemic’s impact on America’s children as parents and educators pour over the latest results from the nation’s report card.

In one of the most striking examples yet of the devastating effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, a new national report shows a historic decline in math scores for American children amidst a nationwide teacher shortage and other troubling factors.

Virginia Secretary of Education Aimee Guidera said, “We are on the cusp of losing a generation of our children.”

The findings are based on the National Assessment of Educational Progress reading and math exams, which are conducted by the National Center for Education Statistics, a branch of the U.S. Department of Education. The report looked specifically at fourth and eighth-grade students and was the first since 2019.

Michelle Burke is an eighth-grade teacher and mother. She said, “A lot of this — so much of this — is socioeconomic. Some districts fared much better than others and, unfortunately, due to zip code, is where you saw kids kind of get lost in the fray, so to say.”

More than 50 states and jurisdictions took part in the assessment, showing the largest decline in math scores since the initial trial in 1990, according to the center’s commissioner.

In fact, no state or large urban district showed improvements in math, with some decline also showing up in reading scores.

United States Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona said, “If this is not a wakeup call for us to double down efforts and improve education, even before the pandemic, then I don’t know what will.”

Secretary Cardona believes the results are partly a symptom of decades of underinvestment, but said part of the solution is to provide better compensation for teachers.

“Honor the profession, pay the professionals a competitive salary and we won’t deal with shortages,” Cardona said.

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