By Larry Sand
It’s no secret that education in America has been in bad shape for some time, and now, low student proficiency has been exacerbated by the hysterical response to the Covid outbreak. Most recently, the results of a Harvard University study, which investigated the role of remote and hybrid instruction in widening gaps in achievement by race and school poverty, have been released.
Using testing data from 2.1 million students in 10,000 schools in 49 states and D.C., the researchers found that “shifts to remote or hybrid instruction during 2020-21 had profound consequences for student achievement. In districts that went remote, achievement growth was lower for all subgroups, but especially for students attending high-poverty schools. In areas that remained in-person, “there were still modest losses in achievement, but there was no widening of gaps between high and low-poverty schools in math (and less widening in reading).”
Another study, by curriculum and assessment provider Amplify, examined test data for some 400,000 elementary school students across 37 states and found a spike in students not reading at grade level, with literacy losses “disproportionately concentrated in the early elementary grades (K-2).” The report also found that minority children suffered disproportionate learning loss. As The Wall Street Journal reports, “During the last normal school year, only 34% of black and 29% of Hispanic second graders needed intensive intervention to help catch up. This school year 47% of black and 39% of Hispanic second graders have fallen this far behind on literacy, compared to 26% of white peers.”
And distressingly, a longitudinal study from the Annie E. Casey Foundation finds that kids “who don’t read proficiently by third grade are four times more likely to leave school without a diploma than proficient readers,” and “for the worst readers, those [who] couldn’t master even the basic skills by third grade, the rate is nearly six times greater.”
The covid related issues are especially tragic, as they were very avoidable. Private schools and public schools in areas without dominant teachers unions did not suffer nearly as much. A Catholic school right next door to a shuttered public school typically remained open.
So what is the increasingly corrupt educational establishment doing as a corrective? Two primary “fixes” are in the works: grade inflation and graduating students from high school who are functionally illiterate. In fact, a report released on May 16 by ACT, a nonprofit organization that administers the college readiness exam, finds evidence of grade inflation in high school seniors’ GPAs. While ACT scores declined between 2016 and 2021, the average GPA for students taking the test increased.
The trend was especially noticeable among Black students and those from low to moderate income homes. Sadly, this is nothing new. Big city districts with their equity-obsessed leadership and powerful teachers unions know they need to show they are not failing. So instead of providing true rigor and firing bad teachers, they simply raise grades.
Detroit is a particularly egregious case. While 72% of the city’s students are graduating from high school this year, only 8% of them are academically ready for college.
Baltimore is even more pathetic
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