QUOTE OF THE DAY: A Glass Half Full Perspective on Devastating Pandemic Learning Loss

The negative effects of school lockdowns and remote learning on America’s school children have been overblown, science writer David Wallace-Wells argued in an essay published Saturday by The New York Times.


Wallace-Wells, in a Times opinion piece titled “Pandemic Learning Loss Is Not an Emergency,” on the ample data showing steep, nationwide declines in student achievement: “I just don’t see the signs of catastrophe that so many others seem to. I’m inclined to see that data as, at least, a glass half full, if not quite a best-case scenario. That’s because the declines, all told, strike me as relatively small, given the context: a brutal pandemic that terrified the country and killed more than a million of its citizens, upending nearly every aspect of our lives along the way.”

  • Well, how bad was it? “Last month, I wrote about early learning loss data from the National Assessment for Educational Progress tests, which showed, that for the country’s 9-year-olds, average test scores for math fell to 234 (out of 500) in 2022, down from 241 in 2020. For reading the scores fell to 215 in 2022 from 220 in 2020. These declines represented a setback of a couple of decades, since the average math score had been 232 in 1999 and the average reading score had been 216 in 2004. The scores varied from student to student and district to district, but nationally the effect did not resemble the cancellation of school. It was the equivalent of taking the nation’s schoolchildren, putting them in a time machine, and sending them off to be educated sometime around the year 2000.”