It’s no secret that education in America has been in disrepair for some time, and now low student skill levels have been exacerbated by the hysterical response to the Covid outbreak. More recently, the results of a Harvard University studywho investigated the role of distance and hybrid education in widening achievement gaps by race and educational poverty, have been published.
Using test data from 2.1 million students in 10,000 schools in 49 states and DC, the researchers found that “the shift to distance or hybrid learning in 2020-2021 had profound consequences for student success. In remote districts, achievement growth was lower for all subgroups, but especially for students attending very poor schools. In the domains that remained in person, “there were still modest losses in achievement, but there was no widening of the gaps between high and low math poverty schools (and less widening in reading).”
Another study, by curriculum and assessment provider Amplify, looked at test data from some 400,000 elementary school students in 37 states and found an increase in the number of students not reading at the grade level, literacy losses “disproportionately concentrated in the early primary grades (K-2).” The report also found that minority children suffered disproportionate learning loss. As The the wall street journal reports, “In the last regular school year, only 34 percent of Black students and 29 percent of Hispanic second-grade students needed intensive intervention to catch up. This school year 47% black and 39% Hispanic students in second grade fell just as far behind in literacy, compared to 26% of white peers.
And distressing, a longitudinal study of the Annie E. Casey Foundation finds that children “who do not read well in third grade are four times more likely to leave school without a diploma than competent readers” and “for the worst readers, those [who] couldn’t even master basic skills in third grade, the rate is almost six times higher.
The covid-related issues are particularly tragic, as they were entirely preventable. Private schools and public schools in areas without dominant teachers’ unions have not suffered as much. A Catholic school right next to a closed public school usually remained open.
So what is the increasingly corrupt educational establishment doing as a corrective? Two main “fixes” are in the works: grade inflation and high school graduates who are functionally illiterate. In fact, a report released on May 16 by ACT, a non-profit organization that administers the college readiness exam, reveals evidence of grade inflation in high school GPAs. While ACT scores have declined between 2016 and 2021, the average GPA of students taking the test has increased.
The trend was particularly conspicuous among black students and those from low-to-moderate income homes. Unfortunately, this is nothing new. Big-city districts, with their equity-obsessed leaders and powerful teachers‘ unions, know they have to show they’re not failing. So instead of providing real rigor and firing bad teachers, they just raise the 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. At the city’s Patterson High School alone 3% of students are at school level, 79% of students tested at the elementary level and 18% had skills in kindergarten and first grade. A student graduated from Patterson High School without knowing how to readand 41% of the city’s high school students have a GPA below 1.0.
It should be noted that Baltimore City Schools CEO Sonja Santelises, who is now five years old, intervenes $375,688 each year, even as student performance continues to fall.
Boston, where just 25% of black elementary students school-level test in English, faces state support. To deal with K-12 failure, some college teachers no longer grade students on writing. Two Boston University professors ridiculously explain that ‘downgrading’inspires students and creates equity.”
Another straightforward way to deal with the grand denouement is the soon-to-be-dumbed-down SAT. As Auguste Meyrat, an English teacher in the Dallas area, reports, “The test will be entirely digital and shortened from about three hours to two. Reading passages will be shortened and the math section will allow the use of a calculator throughout the course. In short, the test will be easier for the testers and the person being tested.
Teachers’ unions have not commented on the general absurdity or widespread grade inflation, but the National Education Association weighed in on the matter in 2017. Predictably, the union l pretty much downplayed, while vilifying the conservatives. The union cited the far left Alfie Kohn, a longtime critic of letter grades, who warns that the “emphasis on grade inflation is probably driven by ‘more conservative ideology than evidence'”. inflation fuels right-wing talking points about public schools covering up failures and indifferent teachers casually handing out A’s to students as they walk through the classroom door.
NEA’s concerns, you see, lie elsewhere. More recently, the union has rolled out strategies to address what really concerns them: climate change and the fact that the Supreme Court could remove race-based admissions policies for colleges and relax restrictions on prayer at school. And then there’s the teachers’ union’s perennial mantra that lack of funding is a problem.
But the request for funding, of course, is misleading. United States spent $752.3 billion on its 48 million children in public schools in 2019, 35% more per student higher than the average for countries in the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), an increase of almost 5% compared to the previous year. But at the same time, less than 40% of American students in 4th, 8th and 12th grades master or exceed any core subject.
Fortunately, the parents realized the madness. According to the priceless Back to Learn Tracker, in 19 of 46 states, public school student populations declined by 3% or more between 2020 and 2022, but only five states saw net gains. An interesting policy angle is that school district enrollment declines were relatively similar in 2020-21, regardless of 2020 voting patterns. But in 2021-22, most districts that voted for Trump rebounded. , while registrations continued to drop in those who voted for Biden.
Perhaps Los Angeles is the star child of declining enrollment. As The Los Angeles Times According to Howard Blume, public school enrollment in Los Angeles is expected to dive almost 30% over the next decade. There are many reasons for the expected decline: urban exodus, falling birth rates, the proliferation of charter schools and, most importantly, the rise of homeschooling, which has seen LA drop from 3.7% to 8.4% in 2020.
Homeschooling has more than doubled nationally since 2020, and shows no evidence of decline, although most of the covid madness has subsided. The Census Bureau reports that between 2012 and 2020, the number of homeschooled families has remained stable at around 3.3%. But in May 2020, about 5.4% of U.S. households with school-aged children said they were homeschooling. And in October 2020, the number rose to 11.1%. Meanwhile, the number of Black families choosing to homeschool increased almost fivefold during this period, from 3.3% to 16.1%.
Covid shutdowns. Union domination of teachers. Simplified study programs. The proliferation of low expectations. Education in America is collapsing very quickly and parents need to take notice and act. Otherwise, our country will be unrecognizable in the not too distant future.
First published at For children and the countryside.