The Nation's Report Card is pretty dismal these days. The math and reading scores for fourth- and eighth-graders in the United States has dropped since 2017, and civil rights activists and teacher advocates have declared American reading performances under emergency.
"The persistent gaps in reading achievement of students from low-income backgrounds, students of color, English learners and students with disabilities on the NAEP require urgent action," John King, CEO of The Education Trust and former education secretary for the Obama administration, said in a statement. "Among the important steps needed is much greater attention to the science of reading. As a nation, if we fail to honor students' right to literacy, we threaten long-term health and well-being not just of our economy, but of our democracy."
A dozen education organizations are pledging to help states and districts develop student reading skills using curriculum materials to dig deeper into the science of reading, better prepare educators to teach literacy and increase the federal investment in research-based literacy programs.
"While there are some bright spots in these results, there is no doubt that there is an urgent need for action across states, districts and schools," Jim Cohen, executive director of the Collaborative for Student Success. "States committed to keeping high academic standards and to embracing the actual science of reading instruction are the ones who saw success."
Education Secretary Betsy DeVos took the education establishment to task after the release of the results and for failing to address the plummeting scores.
"This is not new," DeVos said. "Today's Report Card is essentially the same as the last one, and the one before that, and the one before that. In fact, student achievement hasn't changed much since 1992. Flat lines. Barely any change."
From the New York Times:
“Think about the mom or dad who cannot read, and so does not read to their own children at bedtime,” Ms. DeVos said as she released the scores. “Think about what that portends for their lifelong learning.”
Ms. DeVos dismissed calls — including those from Democratic presidential candidates — to increase school funding to improve the worst-performing schools. She has championed programs that allow tax dollars to follow children to the schools of their choice, including private schools, religious schools and charter schools, and has rejected the view that more money would lift struggling schools.
Experts have said that educators need to learn how to integrate fundamental reading skills into lessons that will excite and engage with young children and that programs must be created to best utilize the resources of underfunded schools.