Last week I took time to watch online the delivery of the Texas Education Agency’s 2021 Annual Report to the Texas State Board of Education by Texas Education Commissioner Mike Morath, and it was predictably revealing and shocking, pretty much as most observers expected, which is probably why it has been very lightly reported by the media. He began by stating what everyone expected to be the overview by announcing that, “because of COVID, the degree of decline cost students ten years worth of gain in every category of performance”. Some highlights:
- Tracking the Texas high school graduating class of 2013, 26% of this class had achieved a post-secondary credential–industry certification, 2 – year associates degree, or 4- year college degree–within six years of high school graduation, down from 29% in the previous year, and considerably lower than the state goal of 60% by 2030.
- Validating the ten year wipe out of achievement gains, the percentage of students meeting grade level in math across all grades, which had increased from 34% in 2012 to 50% in 2019, fell to 35% in 2021.
- In STAAR exam achievement the number of Texas students meeting grade level in reading in 2021 shrunk by 7% in the third grade and 8% in the eighth grade; in math the declines were 18% and 19%, respectively.
- He further announced that the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) test has been administered in Texas, but the results will not be available until later this year. This will provide 4th, 8th, and 12th grade comparison with results in math and reading from around the country and no doubt shed additional light on the devastation in Texas and the nation.
This is a monumental problem, it will take years, if at all, to catch up from numbers like this, and the most disadvantaged of our children have no hope of doing so. I have a couple of thoughts: one, although COVID deserves a significant share of the blame for this achievement catastrophe, there is compelling evidence that some of this decline in performance pre-dates the pandemic and actually coincides with the gutting of the Texas accountability system by House Bill 5 in 2013, which should be restored; and two, comprehensive school choice is not the total answer, but it would sure help in bringing additional talent and the element of competition to the task.
Dr Tom says
Fauci and the CDC are primaliy responsible with their stupid masks and Stalin-like shutdowns. And all the consequences thereof .Mass murderers. The teacher unions are contributory. One need look no further. Unions are to oppose management. Since their oppo is tax payer managment, they should be oultawed.
Greg Stachura says
“… there is compelling evidence that some of this decline in performance pre-dates the pandemic”
I suspected so while reading the excerpt of the report you included in your comment, Jim. Vouchers, freeing children from the public school system that has nearly collapsed under the direction of the leadership of teachers’ unions and the maladministration of our country’s colleges of education that have practiced malfeasance in teaching the teachers for many decades already.
Sandy Kress says
Proof of your hypothesis, Jim, comes in the form of NAEP data in the 2010s. While achievement had risen considerably from the 1990s to 2011, it was stagnant-to-down from 2011 to 2019.
The NAEP chart for 8th grade math is most compelling. We had some of the best gains in the nation in the previous decades, including improvement of almost 3 grade levels for minority students. Those students then fell back a grade level in the 2010s.
Gaming proficiency standards gave the false impression of gains in the 2010s. There were no gains in the 2010s.
This is why we have, and must keep, the NAEP.
But the crucial takeaway is exactly the point you make: when policymakers began to lower standards and eviscerate accountability around 2010, our students began to lose ground. And now that the educrats have responded so poorly to COVID, students have now fallen even further behind.
So, since our policies are off base and educrats are still doing little to get off the floor, we seem to be regressing yet further.
As a piece of evidence for that, look at the tweets in recent days from Kendall Pace showing terrible results from middle of year testing this year of reading proficiency in the 3rd grade in Austin.
As bad as it has gotten, I would suggest that there is one reality even worse than the mighty fall from 2011 in achievement. And that is this: the media and the public don’t seem to care in the slightest.
Pretty amazing and very sad.
Jim Windham says
Thanks for the helpful add on, Sandy, and you’re right—the most disturbing thing about this state of affairs is the apathy, most particularly among our opinion leaders.
Who are these “Opinion Leaders?”
Jim Windham says
You know them.
Sadly, I am afraid I do — but for the life me I don’t know how we let them take the reins of power. Asleep at the wheel, I reckon — but more to the point, hopefully it is not too late to take back the wheel and right the ship. Sadly, the problem in our schools, with our teachers, and with the education or lack thereof of our children, is simply a manifestation of a multitude of other societal disorders that only now are surfacing with the masses — the rest of this analysis would take too long to write so I refer those interested to read everything Victor Davis Hanson has to say on this and all other subjects — and with a studied read of Mark Levin’s American Marxism. Me, I’m tired now.
Vernon Edgar Wuensche says
If free enterprise were allowed to be used to deliver a product called “an exceptional education” the outstanding result would be the same as it has had in America since its founding.
Danny Billingsley says
Disheartening, disgusting and infuriating.