In a brazenly political move, California Superintendent of Instruction Tony Thurmond and the California Department of Education announced they would not release statewide student test scores until after the November election, the Globe reported in September.
“If California’s state test results mirror the recent implosion in national test scores, then it is likely that the state’s scores show a catastrophic drop in student achievement with massive learning losses in math and English,” Lance Izumi, Senior Director of Education Studies at the Pacific Research Institute told the Globe.
Sunday night at 10:06pm, California Gov. Gavin Newsom issued a press release claiming just released educational assessment data shows that California performed better than most other states and the nation from 2019-22 on the National Assessment of Educational Progress data.
Except fewer than half of California students met the state standard in English, and only one-third of students met statewide standards for mathematics.
Newsom even claimed National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) data show California students held steady in reading while the nation declined, lost less ground in math than students nationally.
Only the issue isn’t comparing California’s students against other states’ kids; the issue is that school kids in California did poorly on the state proficiency tests, and were already performing poorly in 2019 before Newsom’s lockdowns of public schools for two years.
On the National Assessment of Educational Progress results in reading and math for 4th and 8th graders nationwide, Gov. Newsom claims “California’s NAEP reading scores remained relatively steady while most other states and the national average showed declines, and math scores didn’t decline as much as most other states or the national average.”
Not so fast, Governor.
The Globe again spoke with Lance Izumi, Senior Director of Education at the Pacific Research Institute, who says the Governor is putting out a lot of balderdash. “California students already were in a low place to begin with,” Izumi said. He looked at the proficiency rates in California for 2019 8th grade math and reading tests against 2022 results.
Izumi said 8th grade really is the most important year of test scores to look at because students have been in school for many years, and it’s a solid assessment how they have done cumulatively.
Izumi said each demographic group, white, African American, and Hispanic students, had significant math proficiency decline from 2019 to 2022.
- White students dropped from 47% proficiency to 34% proficiency;
- African American students dropped from only 10% proficiency to 7% proficiency;
- Hispanic students dropped from only 15% proficiency to 11% proficiency.
Izumi said the study also looked at income levels:
- Low income students (eligible for free school lunch program) scores dropped from an already low 16% proficiency to 11%.
- Affluent students scores dropped from 50% proficiency to 41%.
That’s a huge math deficiency decline, Izumi said. “Math is more complex than reading, and the Covid shutdowns really undercut that type of learning,” he said.
Izumi said with the push for STEM education (Science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) in California’s and the nation’s high tech economy, these scores are not good.
Izumi said reading is a different type of learning skill, and 8th grade California students didn’t do as poorly as they did in math.
- White students dropped from 45% in reading proficiency in 2019 to 39% in 2022;
- African American students increased reading proficiency from a low of 10% to 15%;
- Hispanic students were almost static, increasing slightly from 19% to 20%.
- Low income students increased slightly from 18% reading proficiency in 2019 to 20% in 2022;
- Affluent students decreased from 47% to 45%.
Note the “high scores” of 2019 in math: White students only had 47% proficiency in math; African American students only had 10% proficiency, and Hispanic students only had 15% proficiency in math.
Reading wasn’t much better in 2019: White students had only 45% in reading proficiency, African American had only 10% reading proficiency, and Hispanic students had only 19% reading proficiency.
According to the NEAP, California students performed in Reading:
- In 2019: the average score of eighth-grade students in California was 259. This was lower than the average score of 262 for students in the nation.
- In 2022, the average score of eighth-grade students in California was 259. This was not significantly different from the average score of 259 for students in the nation.
According to the NEAP, California students performed in Math:
- In 2019, the average score of eighth-grade students in California was 276. This was lower than the average score of 281 for students in the nation.
- In 2022, the average score of eighth-grade students in California was 270. This was lower than the average score of 273 for students in the nation.
The key Izumi says is to look at actual proficiency scores – California students should be proficient in reading and math. Proficient merely means they should be able or competent at reading and math.
“This is a condemnation of the policies Gov. Newsom and his sycophants were foisting on parents and children,” Izumi said. “No one is looking into the guts of these actual numbers.”
California Republican leaders also weighed in on the test score results:
“Democrat policies get an F,” said Senate Republican Leader Scott Wilk (R-Santa Clarita). “It is no wonder these scores were kept under lock and key. They are a clear referendum on the failed policies advocated by the governor, legislative leaders, and the state superintendent of public instruction for years – not just during the pandemic. After shuttering schools for the better part of two years, student failure is on steroids. If we continue doubling own on policies that don’t work, our kids will not be prepared for much of anything.”
“Very few Californians can afford to put their kids in private school, like the governor did. Last year, 100,000 students left the state’s public school system. With scores like these, it is no wonder parents are pulling up stakes.”
“These test scores reflect the current state of education in California. We are failing students in the most important subjects,” said Assembly Republican Leader James Gallagher (Yuba City). “This is just another example of Democrat mismanagement, and our kids are suffering for it.”
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