Statement by U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona on Nation’s Report Card

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Statement by U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona on Nation’s Report Card

October 24, 2022

Since Day One, the Biden-Harris Administration has worked aggressively to safely reopen schools, help students recover academically, and support their mental health, because President Biden knew that a once-in-a generation pandemic would have a once-in-a-generation impact on our nation’s students. The National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) results should be a rallying cry to local, state, and national leaders to redouble their efforts to support learning recovery. But they also show 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. Below is a statement from U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona on the latest results:

“The results released today from the National Assessment of Educational Progress are appalling, unacceptable, and a reminder of the impact that this pandemic has had on our learners. The data also represent a call to action for the important work we must do now for our students—especially those who have suffered the most during the pandemic.

“This once-in-a-generation virus upended our country in so many ways -- and our students cannot be the ones who sacrifice most now or in the long run. We must treat the task of catching our children up in reading and math with the urgency this moment demands.

“I’ve been in education for a long time, and this Administration did more for education in its first six months than any in decades. This Administration, unlike the previous one, actually delivered the swift and safe reopening of schools. This Administration broke with its predecessor from Day One by providing an actual plan to tackle learning loss– with concrete support and guidance for schools. This Administration fought for the historic resources in the American Rescue Plan – for which no Republican Member of Congress voted.

“Schools across the country—in red and blue states—are using ARP funds to invest in high-impact strategies that we know result in learning gains and support students’ mental health, including hiring more teachers, tutors, and mental health professionals and expanding afterschool programs.

“Our hardworking educators—trained professionals with deep knowledge of how to support their students—are achieving results for their students with unprecedented resources.

“In the coming days, the Department will issue another resource on using American Rescue Plan funds to address learning loss for educators and state and district leaders. We will launch a new, expert-led series on the most promising tools to raise the bar and accelerate students’ learning in math and literacy. And we already have published a checklist to make sure parents have the tools they need to ensure their children are getting the support they deserve using federal relief dollars.

“The time is now. This is our moment. It’s up to all of us to raise the bar in education.”

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 percent open for in-person instruction to 100 percent 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 NAEP results 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 4th grade reading scores since before the pandemic.
  • 17 of 26 urban districts included in the NAEP showed no statistically significant decline in 4th grade reading, and 21 of 26 showed no statistically significant decline in 8th 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.

New actions the Administration is taking this week to combat learning loss:

  • Reading and Math  Convenings: This week the Department announced that, beginning October 26, it will host five sessions focused on strategies and programs to boost literacy and math outcomes. The monthly sessions will highlight strategies and best practices to help states, districts, and schools improve learning outcomes for students, especially in literacy and mathematics. The kickoff event on October 26 will reinforce the President’s call to use ARP funds to combat learning loss.  
  • Learning Acceleration Guide: Today, the Department issued an updated guide further re-enforcing the key strategies districts and states should use to address learning loss and academic recovery, with additional resources over the coming weeks.

Ongoing actions the Administration is taking to address learning loss and accelerate recovery: 

  • Within three months of his presidency, President Biden and congressional Democrats passed the ARP, which provided $130 billion to schools, including $122 billion in ARP Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ARP ESSER) funding to K-12 schools to reopen safely and address the impacts of the pandemic on students, including evidence-based programs to support learning recovery and acceleration.
  • Independent analysis shows that school districts nationwide plan to spend more than $27 billion specifically on academic recovery, including more than $6 billion on summer learning and after-school programs and $3 billion on tutoring and coaching for reading and math; and an additional $30 billion on staffing, including hiring more educators, and providing professional development so that educators know how to best support their students’ recovery.
  • No Republicans voted for the American Rescue Plan or its funds to support safely getting children back into classrooms and to help them recover academically.
  • The Department immediately took action to help schools use ARP funds to help students recover academically, including:
    • Holding multiple school reopening and recovery summits, to bring together national, state, and local leaders to share best practices on how to use ARP funds to safely reopen schools and accelerate learning recovery.
    • Developing a Best Practices Clearinghouse with hundreds of examples of how schools were using ARP funds to support academic and mental health recovery – for school leaders and communities across the country to use.  
    • Releasing multiple rounds of guidance on how schools can use ARP funds on core priorities, including safely reopening schools, academic recovery, and mental health support.
    • Developing a Back-to-School Checklist for Parents to help parents and families have conversations with school leaders during back-to-school time and beyond about how schools are supporting students, including by using ARP funds.
  • The Department collaborated across the public and private sectors to help schools use ARP funds to support learning recovery, including: 
    • Announcing new efforts with the Department of Labor to expand high-quality teacher preparation programs, such as registered teacher apprenticeship programs, that will provide more students with high quality teachers to help with learning recovery.
    • Collaborating with service organizations to recruit 250,000 new tutors and mentors to help with student recovery. The Department joined AmeriCorps, the Johns Hopkins Everyone Graduates Center, and leading education, youth, and service organizations to launch the National Partnership for Student Success (NPSS), a new coalition formed to expand high-quality tutoring, mentoring, and other evidence-based support programs, with the goal of ensuring an additional 250,000 adults serve in these roles over the next three years.
    • Partnering with national organizations to expand access to after-school and summer programs to help accelerate academic recovery and address the impacts of the pandemic. In July 2022, the Department, along with five coordinating partners and more than 20 national organizations, launched the Engage Every Student Initiative, designed to help communities utilize ARP funds—alongside their state and local funds—to ensure that every child and youth who wants a spot in a high-quality out-of-school time program, such as after-school and summer programs, has access to one. The Department also launched the Summer Learning and Enrichment Collaborative to make sure students specifically have access to more summer programs to help them recover.
  • The Department also put in place strong requirements to track school reopening and ensure transparency regarding how states and school districts are using American Rescue Plan funds. 
    • Tracking status of school reopening and recovery efforts: Prior to the current Administration, there was no federal effort to track the status of school reopening efforts. The Department immediately worked to put in place the NAEP Monthly School Survey in order to track schools’ operating status and the Administration’s progress in fully reopening all schools safely. Building on this survey, the Department launched the School Pulse Panel to track schools’ efforts to provide high-impact supports to students, such as tutoring, after-school and summer programs, mental health supports, and staffing and to better understand the challenges our schools are facing, so that the Administration can better support them. 
    • Launching an interactive map to help families see how ARP funds are being used: Unlike previous rounds of relief funding, states and districts are required to create and publicly post plans for using ARP ESSER funds, including how they will address student academic and mental health needs. State and district plans can be accessed through the Department’s interactive map.