Oct 30, 2019

Student performance in public schools stalls on Nation's Report Card

A student leans back in fatigue or frustration during a lesson. Photo: Courtney Perry for the Washington Post via Getty Images

America's eighth graders in public schools are falling behind in math and especially reading, with their tests declining in more than half of states, according to the latest results from the Nation's Report Card, per the New York Times.

Why it matters: In prepared remarks on Wednesday, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos will note these findings as justification for policy change. DeVos, who is pushing for a $5 billion school choice program, said they "must be America’s wake-up call."

By the numbers: About a third of eighth graders are proficient in reading and math. Among fourth graders, about a third are proficient in reading, and more than 40% are proficient in math, per AP.

  • Fourth-grade reading scores dropped in 17 states, with New Jersey seeing the biggest drop. Mississippi and the District of Columbia both showed gains.
  • Big-city schools still performed below the nation as a whole, but narrowed the gap.
"The results are, frankly, devastating. This country is in a student achievement crisis, and over the past decade it has continued to worsen, especially for our most vulnerable students."
— Betsy DeVos

The big picture: Students made big gains in math in the 1990s and 2000s but have shown little improvement since then. Reading scores have risen a little since the tests began in 1992.

Methodology: States and measures 4th and 8th graders’ abilities in reading and mathematics every two years. Results are tabulated at the state and national levels and for 27 large school districts in the nation.

Go deeper: Why Betsy DeVos' private school tax credit may not be be the answer

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Detroit's uneven comeback

Photo illustration: Jacob Boomsma; Aïda Amer/Axios

Detroit is coming back, but the bulk of that transformation has been limited to 7 square miles — the downtown core — according to recent research from scholars at Michigan State University and Wayne State University. For context, the city is 139 square miles.

Why it matters: Like Detroit, many laggard cities are beginning to catch up with the thriving metros, but often the transformation is uneven — limited to wealthier residents living in the richest neighborhoods.

Go deeperArrowNov 20, 2019

“Students were failed": Trump admin cancels 1,500 student loans

Betsy DeVos Photo: Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call/Getty Images

The Department of Education will cancel federal loans for about 1,500 defrauded students at two shuttered art institutions, reports the New York Times.

Why it matters: This represents a "rare victory" from Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, who has limited relief programs for students who claim they've been deceived by the "career-school chain," writes the Times.

Go deeperArrowNov 9, 2019

Kamala Harris introduces bill to keep schools open later each day

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Kamala Harris speaks during a Nov. 1 event in Des Moines, Iowa. Photo: Joshua Lott/Getty Images

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) introduced a bill Tuesday that would encourage schools to keep schools open three hours longer on weekdays to fit better with parents' work schedules.

"My bill provides an innovative solution that will help reduce the burden of child care on working families. It is time we modernize the school schedule to better meet the needs of our students and their families."
— Harris' statement on the Family Friendly Schools bill
Go deeperArrowNov 7, 2019