About learning loss and the declining education scores…

Anybody remember No Child Left Behind?

Let’s start with what everybody is talking about…

According to The Nation’s Report Card the pandemic school shutdowns took a near catastrophic toll … especially in math.

Pre-Covid, over 42% of 4th graders were considered proficient in math; that percentage slid to  36% during the Covid shut downs.

Similarly, pre-Covid, over 34% of 8th graders were considered proficient in math; that percentage slid to  26% during the Covid shut downs.

All of those numbers are pretty dismal.


I don’t think it’s fair to blame either Trump or Biden for Covid.

While Trump did approve the shutdowns when Covid initially broke out in early 2019 (remember “15 days to stop the spread” ?), he started pushing hard for re-opening in fall 2019 but was stiff-armed by Team Fauci and Team Weingarten.

Biden, though, embraced Fauci and the teacher’s unions’ lockdown position … and, the rest is history.


Let’s move the ball forward.

This chart from Statista caught my eye:


Note the presidential “eras”.

During the Bush years, students’ math proficiency increased from about 1 in 4 students to about 4 in 10 fourth graders … and 1 out of 3 eighth graders.

Those numbers strike me as pretty dismal … but the trend was right.

During both Obama’s years and Trump’s pre-Covid years, improvements stalled but the gains held.

Then, of course, Covid hit …


Flashback: No Child Left Behind

What I find remarkable about the above chart are the the statistically significant gains during the Bush years …  the result of the much maligned No Student Left Behind (NSLB) educational initiative whose “4 pillars” were:

1. Stronger Accountability for Results
More testing and supplemental services, such as free tutoring to bring students up to speed

2. More Freedom for States and Communities
More local control … allowing districts to use funds for their particular needs, such as hiring new teachers, increasing teacher pay, and improving teacher training and professional development.

3 Proven Education Methods
Putting emphasis on determining which educational programs and practices have been proven effective through rigorous scientific research … with a particular emphasis on reading skills.

4. More Choices for Parents
llowing parents to transfer their children (with funding) to better-performing public schools and charter schools.

Critics — especially the national teachers’ unions —  lambasted NCLB for its emphasis on testing, “draconian” accountability focus and ever- threatening “freedom of school choice” … which jeopardized enrollments in under-performing schools.


Sometimes we should follow the data and do what works, right?

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