Local School Districts Respond to National Historic Lows in Math and Reading Scores

Carmela Karcher

While learning loss from the pandemic is not a major shock, the new statistics are alarming.

According to the “Nation’s Report Card”, in most states, fourth and eighth grade students are falling behind on reading and math.

About 25% of fourth graders and 38% of eighth graders are performing below the “basic” level in math scores.

That’s the worst decline ever recorded, causing major concerns for both teachers and parents.

“They were isolated for a year and a half to two years. That’s a huge, huge problem,” Eighth Grade Teacher and Mother, Michelle Burke, shared. “My daughter is struggling in math exponentially.  A lot of the things that we’re seeing emotionally, behaviorally, are putting a huge strain on what you’re seeing in the classroom. Huge strain.”

According to the California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress (CAASPP), the percentage of students meeting or exceeding standard in English Language Arts declined by 9.2% and 10.6% percent in math since 2019.

But districts across the valley are already trying to curb the problem, acknowledging the effects the pandemic and school closures had on students.

In a statement from Palm Springs Unified Superintendent of Schools, Dr. Mike Swize, he said in part, “Improvement will take time with additional support in place and adjustments to meet changing student needs. I am confident that the team at PSUSD will continue to  work to meet the needs of our students and families following the pandemic.”

Desert Sands Unified School District also released a statement, saying in part, “Our priority is to provide high quality instruction, needed intervention, as well as opportunities and resources for our students to improve and excel.” 

Schools across the country are trying to hire more staff.

With teacher burnout and fewer new teachers, schools are seeing an overall shortage of educators, especially in rural and low-income areas.

“I think of myself, I struggled with math, ” Biology Teacher Stacy Brady said. “And if I was sitting in that classroom, I needed help, I had questions, I needed somebody to break it down in a different way. If there’s nobody who has the content knowledge to do that, I’m going to shut down and I’m thinking many of our students might be shutting down as well.”

The federal government is trying to help by sending billions of relief funds to districts where they need to spend at least 20% of that into learning loss.

But, some experts say recovery could take years.

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