LILLEY: NJEA Leaders Are Trying To Pretend COVID Learning Loss Didn’t Happen and That’s Hurting Kids

In an article entitled “In-Person Classes Boost Test Scores,” the Wall Street Journal reports that American students are scoring lower on reading and math tests than last year, indicating that there was indeed learning loss resulting from school closures during the pandemic.

Renaissance Learning analyzed test results for 4.4 million K-12 students in reading and 2.9 million in math and determined that these students performed worse this year than last year, although now that kids are back in school, there has been some improvement during the course of this year.  Importantly, the data showed that the youngest students fared the worst, with kindergarten and first graders showing the most learning loss.  This is particularly worrisome because this learning loss can continue to affect these kids as they move through higher grades.  So there may be legitimate arguments that the learning loss was the price for maintaining public safety, but there is no debate about whether there was actually learning loss.

But apparently that is not what the NJEA believes.  Recall that the NJEA objected to New Jersey’s Start Strong assessments that were given in October 2021 because they would “play into the narrative of learning loss.”  This quote is from the NJEA’s head of Professional Development when she was addressing the NJ Department of Education: the “narrative of learning loss,” as if someone made it up.  Of course, the NJEA is content to pretend that there has not been learning loss because they do not want to be held accountable for closing schools in places like Newark, Paterson and Montclair.

It’s common sense that it’s difficult to fix a problem if you don’t even acknowledge it exists.  When will the NJEA acknowledge that there has been learning loss?

Michael Lilley, Sunlight Policy Center

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