By Brigitte Blom, President & CEO

As a nation, we just received the first look at the long-term impact of the pandemic on student learning. These new national scores show 2022 reading and math results for nine-year-olds on the NAEP Long-Term Assessment. The results are sobering, reversing years of progress.

However, nationally and in Kentucky, we know dedicated educators and families met an extraordinary moment with everything they had – making the lockdown months much less damaging than they might otherwise have been.

At the Prichard Committee, the results are reason for a renewed call for school-community collaboration in every facet of recovery response. Every commitment we promoted before the pandemic – engaged schools, families, communities, and businesses – must be deeper and more strategic now.

Only nationwide results are available, with related state level scores due later this calendar year. Here’s a snapshot of the changes, with startling losses in both subjects.

Further, the data show losses are not evenly distributed. Results for the students previously scoring near the top of the NAEP scale are much less severe than the drop for students previously scoring further down the scale. In short, students struggling to reach proficiency before the pandemic lost the most ground through the pandemic. (The asterisks in the charts confirm all declines shown are statistically significant.)

Accelerating student learning with targeted, intentional, and comprehensive approaches must now be the shared focus of schools and communities. Twenty years from now, the students who have struggled because of COVID disruptions are not going to be given a pass – and Kentucky will not be given a pass in quality of life, economic and workforce development. It’s our shared duty to the rising generation to ensure collaboration that results in the development of the full array of knowledge and skills each student will need for the future.

To do that, schools and communities must come together with all the individual and collective ingenuity at their disposal, including the significant financial resources in schools and local municipalities from the federal government.

The release of these NAEP results is a renewed call for school districts to make their learning recovery plans and strategies transparent; to make the regular evaluation of those strategies transparent; and to bring parents, families, community-based organizations, and businesses to the table in designing and iterating toward clearly established and articulated goals.  These results also call on families and communities to respond with full energy – in collaboration with their schools – to support rich and rigorous teaching and learning.

We can meet this moment together – and be better, and stronger, for it!


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