Secretary Cardona Speaks to Parents About Academic Recovery Following Nation’s Report Card

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Secretary Cardona Speaks to Parents About Academic Recovery Following Nation’s Report Card

October 24, 2022

Today, U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona joined a roundtable with parents from Fort Foote Elementary School in Fort Washington, Maryland, about what the school is doing to help their students catch up.

Following the release of the latest Nation’s Report Card showing a decline for fourth- and eighth-graders in mathematics and reading between 2019 and 2022, released today by the U.S. Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), Secretary Cardona spoke about how critical the Administration’s work was and continues to be to get and keep students back in classrooms and to get American Rescue Plan (ARP) dollars into communities to accelerate academic recovery and provide mental health supports to students.

“American Rescue Plan dollars are a down payment on transformational change in education. We need to maintain urgency – and we have to change the conversation from going back to what we had before the pandemic to doing better for our children. If we do what we’ve done, we’re going to get what we’ve gotten,” said Secretary Cardona.

During this closed press event, parents spoke candidly about the support their students have received from Fort Foote Elementary and from the district, citing the strong leadership and focus on the whole-child approach.

“Community helps make sure that students are seen. My son was energetic and extroverted and needed to get back to school – but he didn’t have confidence academically. My daughter was doing great academically, but not well socially – she could have flown under the radar. Being here helped me realize that,” said one parent.

“My son was always a very good student, but during virtual learning, I saw a lag. He became disinterested. He needed help with his homework. His math teacher engaged with him online – and she even turned math concepts into a song. We will always remember her,” said another parent.

Secretary Cardona ended the session by saying, “My message to parents is this: your voice matters more than you know. This is an opportunity to level up. We need to build capacity with families not only to raise the bar and lift up best practices, but to hold us accountable for meeting students’ needs.”

Secretary Cardona recently spoke to reporters in-depth about the latest data. His full remarks can be found here.

Because this was a top priority of President Biden since Day One:

  • Our nation’s schools went from 46% open for in-person instruction to 100% open full-time and in-person today.
  • The President fought to get teachers eligible for vaccination early on so they could safely open their classrooms.
  • President Biden and congressional Democrats passed the ARP, which invested $130 billion so schools could reopen and stay open safely, as well as address the longer-term impacts of the pandemic, including learning loss.
  • President Biden called on leaders to use these funds in high-impact ways that support student learning, including tutoring, after-school programs, and hiring educators and school mental health professionals, including counselors.

While the Nation’s Report Card make clear that we still have a long way to go, particularly in math, we are seeing hopeful signs for students’ academic recovery:

  • 22 states and jurisdictions saw no statistically significant decline in fourth-grade reading scores since before the pandemic.
  • 17 of 26 urban districts included in the Nation’s Report Card showed no statistically significant decline in fourth-grade reading, and 21 of 26 showed no statistically significant decline in eighth-grade reading, with one district showing a statistically significant increase.

However, the work is far from over. The Department of Education will work with states and districts to make sure that ARP funds are helping students recover academically as quickly as possible and that schools are meeting their needs.