On October 24th, 2022 the National Assessment of Educational Progress released its most recent report - also known as the Nation’s Report Card - presenting math and reading scores for fourth and eighth graders. Sadly, the information presents a dire situation, illustrating an educational divide between student groups, particularly between black and white students. Along with a general decline in reading scores, the gap in math scores between these student groups widened from a 25 point gap in 2020 to a 33 point score gap in 2022, an indicator of the results of inequity within education between student groups.
This newly released data has presented a devastation of the US education system, and the youth within that system. As we realize that fewer students are ready to take on their educational requirements and are woefully unable and unprepared in their endeavors, we are deeply saddened and disappointed. The COVID-19 pandemic has left a lasting and problematic experience for students, as they struggled to maintain and grow their academic performance. Many students lack vital resources, as well as familial and state maintained supports. Systemic issues have left students facing a continual disconnect within their social lives and well being, as circumstances unseated previous methods and abilities to grow and thrive socially. These issues have brought forth extensive concerns for students' mental, emotional, and physical well being and ability to recover from such a massive delineation and shift in actions and attitudes during the pandemic. Experiences such as these, shared by students across the country, painful and distressing, to say the least, have left students unsurprised, though aggrieved at the findings of this year’s NAEP report, seeing as these revelations represent the lived experiences of our nation’s students.
As our leaders are greeted by the findings of this report, it must be understood that beyond statistical figures, lie students … affected by these findings, and the actions taken by our leaders moving forth. Combined societal and political attributes have led to the deterioration of US education seen in this year’s NAEP report, circumstances which must be repaired and readied for student growth and national development in education.
Although this news is disturbing and frightening for the future of the youth affected by these declines in education, all hope is not lost. In order to enact crucial, and lasting systematic change, we may look to sources of action, such as the Our Turn Student Agenda, which directly addresses inequities of our educational system, and proffers solutions to many such issues seen within this year’s NAEP report. The Student Agenda, which was developed by students of color and allies, includes actionable recommendations such as the revision of funding processes to better support and encompass all students and their needs; allowing for maximized equity across all student groups; and the reimagination of educational decision making, as a community process, fueled by and in support of the community, through financial, and academic decisions.
We appreciate the affirmation of Student Agenda endorsers such as The Education Trust, which stated “Now is the time for greater investments in proven strategies that accelerate students’ learning and that address the persistent inequities underscored in those numbers.” Reimagined, transformative investments are necessary if we are to repair the holes present in our education system, and move forward to a future unabated by such issues and inequities. In making advancements to these ends, we may look to proven strategies such as targeted tutoring efforts; expanded educator training and onboarding programs; early literacy programs; and the expansion of many more general academic supports. To create such change and progression, these actions may be provided for and enacted through funding and resources of The American Rescue Plan, which is currently providing a strong financial footing for educational action. Certainly all this can be accomplished, and it can be accomplished quickly, however the decision to take action lies on the shoulders of our leaders - in collaboration with young people - in their dedication, attention to, and protection of the youth, in education, and consequently society.
Though the 2022 NAEP report is a projection of a bleak and dismal state of affairs for the United States education system, next year's NAEP report does not have to be so! We must take action in repairing, and transforming, this system, such as to grow beyond this dreary state of being. With continued federal funding efforts, as well as the dedication of our society, and leaders, we can change the tune of this tale.
Socol, Allison Rose. “NAEP Scores Are out. Sure, Results Are Bad. but Now's Not the Time for Handwringing.” The Education Trust, 24 Oct. 2022, https://edtrust.org/the-equity-line/naep-scores-are-out-sure-results-are-bad-but-nows-not-the-time-for-handwringing/.
“NAEP Long-Term Trend Assessment Results: Reading and Mathematics.” The Nation's Report Card, https://www.nationsreportcard.gov/highlights/ltt/2022/.
“The Our Turn Student Agenda.” Our Turn, https://www.itsourturn.org/student_agenda.