A new report from the Florida Department of Education (FDOE) shows that students are falling behind on reading levels.
The FDOE found that, during the 2020-21 school year, Black students were reading at much lower levels than white students. Across the state, white students performed at 63 percent compared to Black students at 34 percent, a 29 percent gap.
The FDOE found that Alachua County Public Schools had the worst gap of all of Florida’s 67 counties.The gap of reading levels between Black and white students in Alachua was almost 50 percent. Reading performance for white students stood 72 percent and at 25 percent for Black students.
FDOE also noted reading levels among Black students are below the state average.
One of the reasons there is such a huge gap can be attributed to school closures during the COVID pandemic.
According to a 2021 report from McKinsey & Company, a management consulting firm, closing schools during the pandemic set Black students for months.
The study found, on average, that students that tested near the end of the school year were a half a year behind in math and almost that far behind in reading.The report also found that Black and Hispanic students fared much worse than white students during the pandemic. The report found that the school shutdowns were the main reason for these findings.
The survey also noted that only 40 percent of parents felt their child is on track to catch up to normal.
“Our research suggests that parents underestimate the unfinished learning caused by the pandemic,” the study reported.
The McKinsey study also stressed that experts agree that school closures negatively impacted student learning and have also contributed to mental health problems for younger students as well.
With public school students falling behind, advocates of school choice say parents should explore alternatives for their children’s education.
“Recovery from learning loss should have been the number one issue for school administrators, school boards, state and federal departments of education, and unions, but instead they spent the past two years focused on mask mandates, vaccine mandates for student athletes, and race consciousness and gender identity for elementary schoolers,” said Fight for Schools Executive Director Ian Prior.
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