I received a letter from the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. Jeffrey Riley, the Commissioner, shared some bad news for the children whom the state putatively serves. Their test scores fell. He didn’t say by how much, but Boston Magazine reported on this last month:
According to the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, 33 percent of students in third through eighth grade met or exceeded grade-level expectations on their math scores, compared to 49 percent in 2019 (the 2020 spring MCAS exam was canceled due to the pandemic). In English language arts, 46 percent of students scored Meeting Expectations or higher, compared to 53 percent in 2016.
Apparently it is possible to learn English by watching TV and playing Xbox, but those are not the best ways to learn mathematics.
Where’s the good news in this, other than school system bureaucrats and teachers having been paid in full for every day that the schools were closed (a full year in Boston!)? “Fortunately, both our state and federal government have recognized the need for additional resources to meet the challenges before us,” says Mr. Riley. “Massachusetts school districts are receiving state and federal pandemic relief money for an extended period of time, and the money can be spent by districts on a wide range of priorities to meet students’ academic, social, emotional, and mental health needs resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic.” (note that the virus itself is to blame for the schools having been shut; it was not a human or political decision to keep “essential” marijuana and liquor stores open and allow adults to party on Tinder during the 12-month Boston school shutdown that protected 10-year-olds from a virus that killed 82-year-olds in Maskachusetts)