Students’ lifetime income will suffer a loss of nearly $1 trillion as a result of the nation’s dramatic learning decline, according to the results of a new study.
National Assessment of Education Progress (NAEP) data from Oct. 24 showed that every state saw a decline in its math scores, while September data demonstrated that reading scores fell back 30 years to 1991 levels after the COVID-19 pandemic.
The drop in math and reading scores will cause Americans to lose about $900 billion in lifetime earnings, according to a study by Tom Kane, a Harvard economist, and Douglas O. Staiger, an economics professor at Dartmouth.
“We interpret this evidence as saying that NAEP means something,” Staiger told The 74, a nonprofit news organization focused on education. “When there are improvements in scores, those kids coming out of school are going to have better outcomes later in life. And we can infer from this recent decline that all the cohorts in school now are going to do a bit worse than we expected.”
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School districts that chose to stay remote during the pandemic suffered learning loss at least 20% greater than schools that returned to in-person learning, according to a report by the Education Recovery Scorecard.
In the 2020-2021 school year, reading levels for students in remote learning dropped 20% more and math levels dropped 41% more than in-person schools.
The most recent high school graduates scored an average of 19.8 out of 36 on the ACT, a college admissions exam, the first time the average score has fallen below 20 since 1991. Of 2021 students, 38% failed to meet any benchmarks in English, reading, science and math, which are used to determine how well a student will perform in college.
Kane and Staiger looked at about 125,000 students’ test scores at 4,800 schools for the study.
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