Math & Reading Scores Plunge to Record Lows

Math & Reading Scores Plunge to Record Lows October 28, 2022

Math scores for fourth and eighth graders dropped to their lowest level ever.  Reading scores erased three decades of progress.

These were the findings of the 2022 National Assessment of Student Progress, also known as “the nation’s report card.”  Average math scores for eighth graders dropped to 274 out of a possible 500.  Their reading scores dropped 3 points to 260. Fourth graders dropped to 236 in math and 217 in reading.

The drops were across the board, in every state and every demographic.  According to Beverly Perdue, head of the research group, “There was really hardly any difference between a poor, economically deprived rural community and a very sophisticated ZIP code.”

The obvious culprit would be the COVID shutdowns.  Some school districts had canceled in-person classes for two years, attempting on-line learning instead.  So a drop in test scores was expected.

But test scores also declined in schools that remained open!  So the failure to learn in American classrooms must not just be due to the COVID shutdowns.  There must be deeper problems.

I would propose some factors:  bad curriculum, bad teaching, and bad teacher training.

See, for example, our post Resolution and Resistance in Teaching Reading, about how science has conclusively demonstrated that the most effective way to teach reading is by phonics, and yet how the education establishment is resisting that approach anyway.  And see our post Teacher Education Programs Don’t Teach How to Teach, about how university education departments have been neglecting instruction in teaching methods in favor of political indoctrination and oppression studies.

I suspect this focus on “critical pedagogy,” with its emphasis on indoctrinating children on issues of race, gender, and the LGBTQ+ cause–aside from being morally problematic–is taking time away from academic instruction.

At least educators seem to be shaken by this data of academic collapse. Says Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona:

“The results in today’s Nation’s Report Card are appalling and unacceptable. . . . This is a moment of truth for education. How we respond to this will determine not only our recovery, but our nation’s standing in the world.”

Says Peggy Carr of the National center for Education Statistics:

“These mathematics results are historic. . .  “They are the largest declines in mathematics we have observed in the entire history of this assessment.”

Says Beverly Perdue again:

“This is not the result simply of a horrible three years for students, this is a result of a realized generational decline.”

Some educators are blaming social injustice, student’s mental problems, and their inability over this period to collaborate with each other, reflecting the social and psychological preoccupation in education today, as well as the over-emphasis on group work over individual achievement, all of which, I would argue, contribute to the decline in learning.

Here is my suggestion.  In light of the failures of the current educational theories, try something else.  Try classical education.


Illustration:  FAIL by Amboo Who? via Flickr, Creative Commons 2.0


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