Schools across California showed a "significant" decline in test scores since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, resulting in less than half of third graders showing proficiency in reading, and only a third proficient in math, the San Francisco Chronicle reported Monday.
Reading proficiency dropped from 51% in 2019, before the pandemic, to 47% in 2022, according to data released Monday in "The Nation's Report Card" by the U.S. Department of Education.
Math proficiency in the state also dropped from 40% in 2019 to 33% in 2022 due to the amount of time away from school the pandemic caused, the news outlet reported.
"These test scores show the difficulties students in California and across the nation have experienced during the pandemic," state Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond said in a statement to the paper. "Gaps that we were working to close before the pandemic have persisted, especially for disadvantaged students. We have a lot of work ahead of us."
According to the data, the first such report since schools across the nation reopened after closing during the pandemic, California and most other states saw decreases in the number of students showing proficiency in math and reading, highlighting the damage done from students being outside the classroom for much of the last two years.
"The results show the profound toll on student learning during the pandemic, as the size and scope of the declines are the largest ever in mathematics," U.S. Department of Education's National Center for Education Statistics Commissioner Peggy G. Carr said in a press release announcing the data's release. "The results also underscore the importance of instruction and the role of schools in both students' academic growth and their overall wellbeing. It's clear we all need to come together — policymakers and community leaders at every level — as partners in helping our educators, children, and families succeed."
Nationally, reading scores dropped three points for both fourth and eighth grade students, while students at both grade levels also tested below proficiency levels in math.
While the news was bad for states that remained locked down the longest, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said keeping schools there open during the pandemic helped students achieve the state's highest ever proficiency in both grade levels.
"We insisted on keeping schools open and guaranteed in-person learning in 2020 because we knew there would be widespread harm to our students if students were locked out. Today's results once again prove that we made the right decision," DeSantis said in a press release. "We also knew that younger and at-risk students would be the most impacted if schools were closed, and the results speak for themselves. In Florida, our fourth-grade students rank #3 in Reading and #4 in Math, achieving top four in both English and Math for the first time in state history, while lockdown California and New York aren't even in the top 30."
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