Parents sound off on schools after ‘nation’s report card’ shows abysmal math and reading scores

New York parents lambasted public schools after test scores marked historic lows signifying the schools’ failure during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Results of a federal study, known as the ‘nation’s report card‘, were published Monday revealing math scores had their lowest decline ever, and reading scores at their lowest in 30 years. As it was the first time the test could be conducted since 2019, the results were truly indicative of the nationwide shortcomings of public schools during the pandemic and the implementation of online learning.

Jolene Mckee, a mom of six with two sets of twins at Brooklyn’s PS 13, correctly indicated COVID-19 as the source of the schools’ setbacks, telling the New York Post, “COVID had us behind in a lot of things.”

A father of three in Long Island, John Fraiberg, thought that “kids regressed” during the pandemic due to a lack of actual – as opposed to virtual – classroom time. “Last year was tough,” he said regarding his son’s return to Harborfields High School in Suffolk County after months of trying to maintain his education remotely. “He’s currently behind, failing a class, and struggling with math… I think kids regressed. It’s almost as if they missed a year of school.”

Fraiberg’s son isn’t alone, as the federal study shows sweeping declines in test scores from students across the nation almost without exception. The study, which is taken from 4th and 8th-grade students throughout the country, showed students’ scores plummeting and the significant challenge educators now face in repairing those damages. “These mathematics results are historic,” said Peggy Carr of the National Center for Education Statistics, the research branch of the US Department of Education responsible for administering the test. “[T]hey are the largest declines in mathematics we have observed in the entire history of this assessment.”

Many parents are concerned that there won’t be any chance of “bridging the gap” for their children if public institutions don’t improve immediately.

“If we take a look at this neighborhood, a lot of these kids need after-school. They need tutoring, they need help in math and English,” said McKee, who serves as PTA President in Brooklyn’s PS 13 district.

Maria Ochakovsky, who has a son at PS 98 in Little Neck, reiterated Mckee’s concerns imploring schools to do more to help mitigate and restore the losses caused by remote learning.

“Online doesn’t adapt to that well. Especially not for special needs kids. More after school, in person, extra help would help them close that gap,” she said.

Pennsylvania mom, Rose Schulz, pointed a finger at an increase of teachers calling out during the pandemic causing their students’ learning to be inconsistent and chaotic.

“Because the need is so high, they’ll just take whatever teacher is available and have them sub … you just pray that the teacher who is out, short term or long term, is leaving detailed notes,” said Schulz. Her daughter Dakota, a sophomore in high school, told her mother “‘we had a sub in English today, we got to be on our phones the whole period.’”

While students across the nation have struggled, New York students appeared to lag behind even more as their test results showed that in three of the four categories they were below the national average.

“They can do whole a lot better. Most of the teachers don’t care,” another Brooklyn mother noted. “Put less kids in the classroom, when there’s so many kids the teachers can’t pay attention.”

The Empire State published its own standardized test results on Monday as well, and its results were no less alarming. Only 46.6% of students showed to be at their grade-level proficiency for reading, similar to pre-pandemic numbers, but only 39% proved to be proficient on statewide math exams – an 8% decrease from before the pandemic.

While Jeff Smink, the deputy director of Education Trust New York, warned against interpreting the data before grade-level data is available, Carr called the national data “a serious wakeup call.”

The results of these exams corroborate the concerns of parents across the country. A recent study showed similar difficulties facing a much younger cohort of children indicating that many parents and children face an uphill battle in the years to come.


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