KAESP thinks it is important to share our national association (NAESP) response the the most recent NAEP scores written by Patricia Levesque. It is definitely worth reading.
This year’s NAEP scores have been devastating for all 50 states and dozens of major cities. The data show that decades of academic progress for students have been wiped away. Every sub-group—as well as the overall national averages—saw declines in reading and math scores. For both 4th and 8th graders, math scores had the biggest drop since the first test was first administered in 1990. In reading, our students are performing on par with students back in the 1990s, Now, like then, a third of students in both grades cannot read at the most basic level.
We keep hearing the words “declining numbers…learning loss…lower achievement.” But I’ll add another word: heartbreaking. Because behind every less-than-proficient NAEP score—whether in reading or math—are countless students who are struggling. Every one of those children is not on track for success in school—or potentially in life. And if we’re honest, it’s not because they are failing, it’s because the education system is failing them.
We cannot look away from these scores or make excuses or give up on our kids. We must face the monumental challenge at hand. Governor Jeb Bush said it best in his recent op-ed, describing this as a national priority.
I am heartened by the state leaders, partners and lawmakers who hear that call to action and are seeking policy solutions that have the potential to turn things around for our kids. Three critical strategies in reading and in math can make an immediate difference:
Establish a solid foundation of early literacy:
- Require all educators to be trained in phonics and the science of reading, an evidence-based approach to teach students the understanding around sounds, fluency, vocabulary and comprehension. Teacher-prep programs in colleges of education can require this training as well as installing literacy coaches at every elementary and middle school to support the teachers.
- Eliminate failed literacy practices and curriculum, such as “balanced literacy” or “whole language,” along with any model that includes the “3-cueing” approach. The 3-cueing method teaches students to look at pictures and guess instead of sounding out words.
- Establish early literacy screening in every state (in grades K-3) and provide early intervention for those struggling to learn to read.
Ensure students are competent in math:
- Ensure students have access to an effective math teacher, especially in elementary grades. This may require departmentalization or specialization in early grades.
- Require curriculum based on high-quality content focused on both procedural and conceptual knowledge of whole numbers, fractions and geometry, and problem-solving skills.
- Provide students who are behind with additional time with personalized math support, including access 2-3 times a week to high-impact tutoring so they can master the concepts.
We know that with the right policies, classroom supports, learning models and school options, every child can succeed. That belief is at the heart of ExcelinEd’s mission, and it’s at the heart of why I come to work every day.
Students need our help, now more than ever. I am grateful for your support and partnership as we undertake this profoundly important work.