Long-term NAEP scores for 13-year-olds drop for first time since testing began in 1970s — ‘a matter for national concern,’ experts say
Thirteen-year-olds saw unprecedented declines in both reading and math between 2012 and 2020, according to scores released this morning from the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP). Consistent with several years of previous data, the results point to a clear and widening cleavage between America’s highest- and lowest-performing students and raise urgent questions about how...
By Kevin Mahnken | October 14, 2021
‘Staggering’: New research shows that child obesity has soared during pandemic
Since COVID-19 first shuttered schools last spring, American children have been subjected to a kind of natural experiment in inactivity. The last 18 months have seen three school years interrupted sporadically by closures, quarantines, and virtual instruction, during which time children have spent more time in front of screens than ever before. And the physical...
By Kevin Mahnken | September 28, 2021
Q&A: Author Amanda Ripley on the pandemic, trust in American education and the new film about why American schools aren’t the best in the world
A decade ago, journalist Amanda Ripley wanted to answer a simple question: Why do international tests routinely show dozens of countries outperforming the United States academically? Her resulting book, The Smartest Kids in the World, became a bestseller and one of the most talked-about releases in 2013. Following three American students as they traveled to high schools...
By Kevin Mahnken | August 31, 2021
Elusive data show teaching candidates fail licensing exams in huge numbers
Across the country each year, thousands of teaching candidates get ready to begin their classroom careers. They finish up their graduate coursework, start scanning excitedly for job openings — and then fail their states’ teacher licensure exams. Dejected and daunted by the prospect of retaking the test, many never become teachers. It’s a distressing pattern...
By Kevin Mahnken | August 2, 2021
New federal data confirms pandemic’s blow to K-12 enrollment, with drop of 1.5 million students; pre-K experiences 22 percent decline
Data released last month revealed a startling decline in the number of American children attending public schools: Total K-12 enrollment dropped by roughly 3 percent in 2020-21 compared with the previous school year. The overall number obscures an even more dramatic drop among the youngest children. According to the data circulated by the National Center for...
By Kevin Mahnken | July 13, 2021
Research from Europe points to online tutoring as a potent weapon against learning loss
During the early days of the pandemic, with students around the world shut out of school buildings and many struggling to succeed in virtual classrooms, academics and philanthropies in several countries embraced a novel solution: online tutoring. In recent months, the first research studies on those initial efforts — one based in the United Kingdom,...
By Kevin Mahnken | June 14, 2021
NAEP science scores down for fourth-graders, flat for older students; are reading challenges to blame?
Tuesday’s announcement of science scores from the 2019 round of the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) provides more evidence for two ugly trends in the test often referred to as the nation’s report card. As with other results from the past few years — including assessments in social studies last year and the core subjects...
By Kevin Mahnken | May 26, 2021
Report: New summer learning initiative, launched last year as a 5-week pilot for nearly 12,000 students, shows promise for improving online instruction
An ambitious pilot aimed at improving virtual learning last summer has earned high marks from participants, according to a new report. The program, which has since been reconstituted as an ongoing nonprofit enterprise, was rated in surveys as both engaging to students and beneficial in improving teacher performance. Evidence of its academic impact is still...
By Kevin Mahnken | May 11, 2021
FAFSA applications fell after COVID — and for many incoming freshmen, they haven’t recovered
New research from California shows a sizable decline in applications for university financial aid during the first phases of the COVID-19 pandemic. The trend among first-year college students has not reversed itself, the data show, and declines are particularly acute in low-income neighborhoods and those with higher minority populations. Financial aid applications are a useful...
By Kevin Mahnken | March 16, 2021
Study: Chicago tutoring program delivered huge math gains; personalization may be the key
A year after mayors and governors announced the first school closures related to COVID-19, many have turned to personalized tutoring to cope with disruptions to learning. Families that could afford to hire private instructors began doing so even before the 2020-21 school year began, while governments in Europe launched full-fledged programs to work with thousands...
By Kevin Mahnken | March 11, 2021