Less access to in-person instruction during the pandemic is associated with a significant decline in standardized test scores, according to a new working paper published by the National Bureau of Economic Research.

Researchers evaluated the standardized test scores from 12 states (Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nevada, Ohio, Rhode Island, Virginia, West Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming), considering test scores during the pandemic in comparison to pre-pandemic years going back to 2015.

Their findings: “We demonstrate first that, across all 12 states in our sample, there were large reductions in test scores between 2020-21 and previous years. The average decline in math is 14.2 percentage points, versus 6.3 percentage points in English language Arts.”

The researchers note that their findings likely underestimate the decline, since there was less participation in standardized tests during the pandemic period and, according to state officials, “the lost participation seems to disproportionately come from groups with generally lower test scores.”

The researchers further note that the largest declines in test scores came from districts with less in-person instruction. Unfortunately, districts with higher Black and Latino populations tended to have less in-person instruction. These findings are particularly troubling when trying to sort out what’s happened here in California, which lagged most of the rest of the country in reopening schools for in-person instruction.

It’s even more worrisome given the attitude of teachers union leaders such as United Teachers Los Angeles president Cecily Myart-Cruz.

“There’s no such thing as learning loss,” Myart-Cruz told Los Angeles magazine earlier this year. “It’s OK that our babies may not have learned all their times tables … They know the words insurrection and coup.”

This is the lunacy that passes for progressive in California. While the long-term damage of short-sighted thinking as it relates to in-person instruction remains to be seen, the harm done will be with us for some time. Those responsible, school board members to state officials who bend to union will, should be held accountable.


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