California is still going through a crisis that can properly be called existential.
We have acute shortages of water, electricity and housing, homelessness and poverty are among the worst in the country, and wildfires destroy thousands of homes every year.
California's future has another crisis, not as obvious as the others, but potentially devastating: the shamefully low achievement of the state's nearly 6 million public school students.
Before COVID-19 hit and authorities closed schools to limit the spread of the deadly disease, students in California failed to meet state standards for skills needed to become successful adults and performed poorly on statewide tests. This is especially true for the 60% of children who are classified as poor or "English language learners."
On Monday, the federal and state governments released the latest test results, saying the pandemic's outsized efforts to educate home-schooled children further lowered learning rates and widened an already widening "achievement gap."
Govt. Gavin Newsom and Superintendent of Public Schools Tony Thurmond tried to play up the test results, basically saying the drop could be worse, but sugar doesn't change the fact that California is serious about education. . A crisis that threatens to destroy its social and economic future.
The National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) has reading and math results for grades 4 and 8, and California is again one of the lowest performing states, 12th, above and below the state average in all categories.
Newsom singled out the data as showing that "California students suffered less learning loss than other states during the pandemic," but acknowledged that "the results are not a celebration, but a call to action. Act – students are struggling academically and we must continue to provide them with resources." will be
Newsom failed to mention that students in the two red states singled out for contempt, Florida and Texas, scored higher on NAEP tests. Florida was 6th in the world and Texas was above the state average.
State-by-state data also showed – not for the first time – that there is no direct correlation between academic performance and school spending.
New York, the top spender on education, ranked lower than California, where several states further down the spending list were top performers. Wyoming ranks 2nd behind New York in spending, 1st in education and neighboring Utah, the lowest spending state, 5th in achievement.
California's educational institutions and most of its politicians tend to limit the discussion of academic achievement to money, but it is clear that other factors are at play.
Later Monday, the Thurmond Department of Education released last spring's Smart Balance test results. Thurmond originally planned to delay the firing until the end of the year, but when the school district's results dropped, Thurmond faced media pressure to fire early.
Statewide, the percentage of students meeting or exceeding state standards decreased by 4 percentage points in English (from 51% to 47%) and 7 percentage points in math (from 40% to 33%) compared to the recent pandemic. 2018-19 Exam.
Like other crises in California, academic performance is going in the wrong direction, and spending more money is unlikely to improve it. We should learn from other states and school districts in California that are surprisingly successful.
Lack of reform will have disastrous consequences for children and the entire state
CalMatters is a community journalism company dedicated to explaining how the California State Capitol works and why it matters. See comments for more stories by Dan Walters.
This article originally appeared in the Ventura County Star: New Tests Highlight California's Education Crisis