(The Center Square) – Virginia Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin is urging education reforms after data showed a reduction in fourth grade math and reading proficiency scores in the 2022 National Assessment of Educational Progress report card.
According to the data, fourth grade reading proficiency dropped to 32%, which is six percentage points lower than the 2019 result of 38% and 11 points lower than the 2017 result of 43%. In fourth grade mathematics, proficiency was only at 38%, which is 10 points lower than the 2019 result of 48% and 12 points lower than the 2017 result of 50%.
Virginia’s fourth grade reading proficiency fell to be on par with the national average after more than two decades of outperforming the country. From 2019 to 2022, it fell at three times the rate of the national average and from 2017 to 2022, it fell at nearly four times the national average. In 2019, the commonwealth’s scores were four points higher than the national average and in 2017, it scored eight points higher than the national average, but in 2022, scored the same as the national average.
Fourth grade math proficiency is falling at a similar rate. From 2019 to 2022, Virginia’s score fell at twice the national average. In 2022, Virginia still ranked three points higher than the national average, but in 2017 and 2019, it ranked 10 points higher than the national average.
“The NAEP results are another loud wake-up call: our nation’s children have experienced catastrophic learning loss, and Virginia’s students are among the hardest hit,” Youngkin said in a statement after the results were released.
“Every parent in Virginia is now acutely aware that when my predecessors lowered educational standards, those lowered expectations were met,” the governor continued. “Virginia’s children bear the brunt of these misguided decisions. These actions were compounded by keeping children out of school for extended and unnecessary periods. Virginia may lose a generation of children – particularly among our most in need. We are redoubling our Commitment to Virginians, to prevent us from losing a generation, with additional steps to ensure that all children in Virginia have the tools and support structure to get back on track.”
The governor’s office noted that the sharp decline in reading proficiency began after the Board of Education lowered its accreditation standards in 2017 and then fell more rapidly after the board lowered its reading standards of learning cut scores in 2019. The math proficiency saw its swift downturn after the board lowered its math standards of learning cut scores in 2019, the governor’s office also noted.
“Recent data from the SOLs, PALS and now today’s heart-wrenching decline in Virginia’s NAEP scores, are a predictable outcome of the decade-long systematic dismantling of a foundational commitment to excellence in education,” Secretary of Education Aimee Guidera said in a statement. “Nothing is more important than ensuring every child in Virginia has access to a quality education that is grounded in high expectations. Since Day 1, our administration has worked to live up to that promise and we will continue our efforts to raise expectations for students and schools, support them in meeting those high standards and hold schools accountable for results.”
Youngkin’s administration recommended seven actions to improve the state’s numbers. This includes increasing standards, launching tutoring partnerships, strengthening the teacher pipeline and to spend the remaining $2 billion of federal K-12 funding on learning recovery.