Dori: State public school students score lowest ever on ‘Nation’s Report Card’

Oct 27, 2022, 6:07 PM | Updated: 6:09 pm
math scores...
(Photo by Ben Birchall/Getty Images)
(Photo by Ben Birchall/Getty Images)

In yet another report showing test scores dropping dramatically for public school students in Washington, the state’s 4th and 8th graders have scored the lowest ever recorded since they began taking what’s called “The Nation’s Report Card.”

Released on Monday, the National Assessment of Education Progress (NAEP) 2022 results also show Washington’s state schools rank at or below the national average for the first time since 8th graders started taking the test in 1998 and 4th graders began sitting for the exam in 2003.

Results of the NAEP exams given between January and March 2022 were similar around the country, according to Chalkbeat, a non-profit news organization covering education. “Unprecedented declines” were “broad-based,” Chalkbeat analysts reported.

The weak results parallel others tracked by at least two other widely used standardized tests given in Washington state, according to Washington Policy Center’s education center director Liv Finne. In a piece Finne posted Monday, she wrote that math and English scores for the state’s public-school students are also down in the national American College Test (ACT) and Washington’s own Smarter Balanced Assessment (SBA).

SBA results from 2021 – the first statewide exam students took since Gov. Jay Inslee’s COVID lockdown mandate took effect in March 2020 — show 52% of public school students did not meet basic English testing standards; 70% failed to meet basic math testing standards.

In a July interview with Washington’s Superintendent of Public Instruction Chris Reykdal on The Dori Monson Show, the OSPI chief put less importance on the state’s testing but praised Washington’s “top 10 in math and English language arts” ranking on the NAEP because “it is the only that we take across the country in common.”

Now, it appears, Washington has sunk in those rankings.

Students’ test scores tied for 27th with three other states for 4th-grade math scores and tied for 19th with three other states for 8th-graders’ math results, according to the NAEP’s state-by-state profiles.

Among our state’s 8th graders, 28% were math “proficient,” while 38% scored below “basic.” For English, Washington’s 8th graders were tied with five other states for 15th in reading and tied for 19th in math with three other states.

While some officials have called the learning fallout from COVID-related school closures a “generational disaster,” Finne believes there is money in state coffers to begin getting students back on track.

“Today, Washington public schools have on hand about $1.6 billion in unspent federal COVID money,” Finne wrote. “That’s enough to provide every family $1,500 to pay for tutoring, extra lessons, or other resources without touching a penny of existing district budgets.”

State school leaders, meanwhile, would prefer to keep that money in the schools instead of allowing families to make their own choices about how it could best be used for their student, Finne said.

Listen to Dori Monson weekday afternoons from noon – 3 p.m. on KIRO Newsradio, 97.3 FM. Subscribe to the podcast here.

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Dori: State public school students score lowest ever on ‘Nation’s Report Card’