opinion | Epidemic learning loss is not an emergency
State by state, it’s hard to draw a line between school closures and learning loss, because some of the states that closed the longest performed best, and vice versa. Earlier research showed a clear link between school closures and learning loss at the district level, but at a news conference announcing the latest NAEP report, the commissioner of the National Center for Education Statistics said, There is nothing that tells us that there is a measurable difference in performance between states and districts based on how long schools were closed.”
In the nation’s largest school district, New York City, schools reopened in September 2020. There, average reading scores dropped by about one point for fourth graders and improved by about one point for eighth graders; In math, there was a nine-point drop in fourth-grade scores (statewide scores dropped by 12) and eighth-grade scores by four points (statewide scores dropped by six). In the second largest district, Los Angeles, schools remained closed until January 2021. There, average scores in fourth grade reading, eighth grade math and eighth grade reading actually improved, where they improved by a strong nine points (up to 257). 248) from. Marks fell only in fourth grade math (from 224 to 220).
In a vacuum, a fall in epidemics looks like bad news, if on a relatively small scale. But none of this happened in a vacuum. I mentioned the millions of deaths that are not to fear how much those numbers could be without school closures – the scale of that effect, I believe, is an open question – but Disease only to indicate the vast and widespread human impact. And that effect was much larger than measured by mortality alone. By one estimate, more than 3.5 million Americans were hospitalized, and probably at least as long suffered from Covid. In the spring of 2020, the country’s unemployment rate rose from about 4 percent to about 15 percent; For a brief period in April, six million new jobless claims were filed each week. US GDP declined 9 percent in the same quarter. The murder rate increased by 30 percent; Fatal car accidents also intensified. Overdose deaths increased by 30 percent in 2020 and 15 percent in 2021. According to some research, rates of depression had tripled in the United States when the pandemic first broke out. Some 600,000 teachers left the profession.
This is a world in which American students—most of them learning remotely for several months, many of them closer to a year, and some longer—on their reading and math tests, fall by a few points compared to theirs. Huh. Epidemic friends.
Kinga-Yamahatta Taylor recently wrote in The New Yorker, “The sudden onset of the pandemic has been the most catastrophic in recent American history, making it hopeful that there will be no such thing as a bizarre ‘loss of learning’ ” “The idea that life will churn just the way it is always only underscores that the pandemic has had two very different experiences,” she stressed, emphasizing how much the pandemic has affected the poor and marginalized. was difficult. navigate, compared to those for whom its secondary effects were influenced by money.
International comparisons provide another context for declining test scores. In England, schools closed in the spring of 2020, with some places reopening in early summer and nationwide in the fall (with an Omicron interruption of about a month in the winter of 2021). In retrospect, this would have been a plausible but relatively aggressive school reopening approach in the United States, where many schools stayed away well into the 2020-2021 school year. This resulted in a six percentage point drop in proficiency scores, which is roughly the equivalent of American experience. In other words, in England, with the reopening of an optimal school, they did not do much better.
In the Netherlands, where schools were less disrupted than in the UK, student performance dropped by three per cent – slightly better, but still below the standards set in pre-pandemic years. At the most extreme end of the spectrum, is Sweden, which has not closed schools at all, and which, some reports have suggested, experienced no such decline. But the country also suspended its testing program, which means the data on which such claims can be based is very volatile.