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DiNapoli calls for review of federal pandemic aid spending as student performance drops

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  • Staff Report 

New York State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli called for schools to review their spending of federal pandemic aid on Monday following a significant drop in student performance between 2019 and 2022. The Comptroller’s office released a review of federal data showing that student performance declined across all demographics, with math proficiency rates among grade 4 students dropping.

“The classroom disruptions caused by the pandemic have hurt New York’s students. Academic losses were greater for younger students, with fourth-grade scores dropping more than the national average,” DiNapoli said. “School districts must act quickly to take full advantage of available resources to help students that are most in need get caught up before time runs out.”

Schools in New York have received a $15 billion infusion of federal aid on an emergency basis, along with $14 billion over three funding rounds. However, only 40% of the money has been spent so far, and the money must be spent by September 2024.

The disruptions caused by remote learning, lack of socialization, and overall stress during the pandemic have made for a raft of complications for schools. The added money for schools was meant to help with learning loss as well as the mental health challenges that arose during the pandemic.

Governor Kathy Hochul has proposed a combined $42.1 billion in state and federal aid for schools, with the largest boost proposed in direct aid for schools in history. However, the State Comptroller’s report highlights the need for schools to review their spending of the already available funds.

The report emphasizes the importance of helping students who are most in need and getting them caught up before it’s too late. With the pandemic still ongoing, it’s crucial for schools to use the available resources to ensure that students are not left behind. The report also highlights the need for policymakers to ensure that schools receive the necessary funding to help students succeed academically and address the mental health challenges that arise from the pandemic.