Education scores tumble after pandemic as Arizona districts sit on millions in grant money
PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) -- The COVID-19 pandemic left children with ‘historic learning setbacks’ according to recently released results of a national test referred to as the nation’s report card.
According to the National Assessment of Educational Progress results, math scores saw the largest decreases ever, and reading scores dropped to levels not seen since 1992. In Arizona, reading scores held steady, but math scores declined.
“We now know where kids are,” said Chad Aldeman, policy director of the Edunomics Lab at Georgetown University. “We can stop arguing about how much the loss was, and we can start to get back to work on helping kids recover.”
The Edunomics Lab tracks school spending. Over the summer, Aldeman focused on analyzing a round of federal grants issued last year, which are supposed to be used to combat learning loss from the pandemic. Arizona school districts received $2.3 billion in funding. “I’m optimistic that there’s a big opportunity for districts to seize the money, sees the opportunity to spend wisely and get students back on track,” Aldeman said.
The Edunomics Lab created a tool for parents to see how much money districts would need to spend on tutoring to make up for learning problems from the pandemic. For example, the Glendale Elementary District would need to spend an estimated $17.8 million in math tutoring and $11.5 million in reading tutoring to remedy losses from the COVID-19 pandemic. The district received $44 million in federal grant funds.
A spokesperson for Glendale Elementary School District said in a statement they have “introduced Parent Academic Coaches to create systems to enhance parents’ skills as partners in reducing learning loss due to the pandemic.”
But as of July 2022, when Edunomics did their analysis, Glendale Elementary had not spent any of the new grant dollars. At the end of the summer, Arizona school districts had spent just ten percent of the money granted to local districts. “The pace of spending has not been as fast as what I anticipated,” Aldeman said. “We want districts to be urgent and show urgency. The kids are behind, and so we need to help them recover, but we want districts to spend it wisely.”
The clock is ticking for districts to spend the money. Some students have already graduated without the benefit of what this funding would provide for them.
EXPLORE RECOVERY FUND SPENDING IN YOUR SCHOOL DISTRICT
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