Opinion: As academic learning declines, some officials seek even more money for education

Liv Finne of the Washington Policy Center shares further confirmation of a disturbing trend in Washington’s public schools.

Liv Finne of the Washington Policy Center shares further confirmation of a disturbing trend in Washington’s public schools

Liv Finne
Washington Policy Center

For some time I have written, and presented data, about the falling academic standards and learning in Washington public schools, due to CRT and other factors.

Liv Finne
Liv Finne

Today I received further confirmation of this disturbing trend.  On Friday, State Superintendent Chris Reykdal finally released Fall 2021 test scores. These scores show academic learning is dropping across all metrics.  All Washington students, in every demographic and income group, have fallen behind the state’s academic standards in their learning.

One reason is that students have been kept out of school for months at a time.  On March 12, 2020 Governor Inslee ordered all the schools in Washington state, public and private, to be closed. Instead of adopting the current policy of only closing schools where COVID is present, the Governor placed the full burden of closed schools on families.

His Emergency Order, dated March 15, 2021, identified the mental health crisis facing students as the reason for requiring the union to reopen the schools. But even this Order kept the schools closed until April 19th, 2021.  Now schools in many parts of the state are facing further possible closures.

Below is the data showing how far behind Washington’s students are in their learning.

Alternatives are available.  In 2020 and 2021 many states, to provide families with access to learning resources, enacted or expanded school choice programs.  Similar legislation has been introduced here.  A caring state legislature would deliver resources directly to families, so they can hire private tutors to make up this loss.   

Smarter Balanced Assessment Results, Fall 2021 | Released January 7, 2022

Math – Students Met Standard

Spring 2019Fall 2021
Native American25.8%10%
Low Income32.2%15%
Special Ed15.9%8%

English – Students Met Standard

Spring 2019Fall 2021
Native American35.9%23%
Low Income43.1%31%
Special Ed20.8%16%

Liv Finne is the director of the Center for Education at the Washington Policy Center.

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Scott Hooper
Scott Hooper
4 months ago

“…due to CRT and other factors.” No Washington pre-college school teaches CRT. So how exactly does that impact our grade schools?

I’m not surprised to see the decline. I’ll bet every state has seen this recently. COVID severely disrupted all our lives, and while our leaders tried to balance disruption with risk, we all shouldered some of both.

Now is time to plan to make up what’s lost.

4 months ago

No one should deny that closing schools led to a decrease in learning. My daughter is a freshman in college, and almost everyone in her group of friends are struggling to re-establish the learning pattern that is required to properly retain knowlege. Sadly her grades during the shutdown were the highest she ever recieved, because the standards that she was held to were so low. I don’t blame the teachers, as they were put into the same situation by our elected leaders, the vast unknown extent of Covid, and the lack of good ‘virtual learning’ platforms to continue to educate our children.

4 months ago

The schools had a preview of this in 2019 with the local measles outbreak and were not prepared for it… there never has been any planning for a contingency like COVID by the schools or the school districts. When COVID forced the schools to shut down, they had no clue on how to reach out and continue to educate children. They spent millions on Chromebooks, WiFi hotspots, new desktops for teachers and still had problems reaching out to students. They went back to printing “packets” of homework for parents to pick up and providing sack lunches just to show the public that they were “doing something”.

When Chris Reykdal had his “meltdown” last year about his son failing in school, blame for distance learning was placed not on the schools and school boards, but the parents. I’ve heard some teachers and administrators first hand openly blame “the ******* parents” for distance learning failing.

It’s long past time to reevaluate public education in the local area and this country. It’s time to go through and take a serious look at how many “administrators” are really needed to run a school district (if you took a look, many of you would be shocked at the bloat in just your local district’s headquarters). How many school counselors do you think are actually interacting with students on a daily basis? How many teachers are in positions labeled “teacher on special assignment” instead of back in the classroom? How many employees are actually “collecting a paycheck” instead of actually working?