by James A. Bacon
Here is more proof, as if it were needed, that Virginia’s public school system suffered one of the greatest COVID-induced collapses in standardized test scores of the 50 states. A paper by Clare Halloran, a Brown University professor, and three colleagues recently published by the National Bureau of Economic Research drew data from 12 states, including Virginia, to probe the impact of COVID-related school shutdowns on student learning. Virginia students experienced the lowest rate of in-person learning — and they likewise experienced the biggest drop in test scores. It wasn’t even close.
Summarize the authors: “Of the states in our analyses, in-person learning rates are highest in Florida and Wyoming, and lowest in Minnesota and Virginia. Virginia and Colorado also have the highest share of district-time spent in virtual learning.”
They continued: “Our analysis finds a decline in pass rates from the 2018-19 school year to the 2020-21 school year in all states. The decline ranges from -31.9 percentage points (Virginia, math) to -2.3 percentage points (Wyoming, ELA).” Note: ELA = English Language Arts.
“In most cases,” states the study, “the test score declines in the pandemic year are larger in the districts with less in-person instruction. This difference is largest in Virginia.”
Needless to say, the negative impact was most severe for Black and Hispanic students. “Among districts with a larger share of Black and Hispanic students, districts with less in-person schooling saw a greater decline in ELA test scores than those with more in-person learning.”
Bacon’s bottom line: Ralph Northam will go down in Virginia history as the worst governor for education since Massive Resistance. In fairness, though, it should be noted that he had many accomplices in crime and many useful idiots.