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Report: NY kids’ pandemic-era education troubles persist

  • / Updated:
  • Edwin Viera 

A new report found New York kids’ well-being is improving despite lingering pandemic issues.

The Annie E. Casey Foundation’s Kids Count Data Book ranks the state 29th, up from 30th. While some indicators saw mild increases, education saw vast growth but it is not a sweeping victory. Fourth graders’ reading and eighth graders’ math proficiency dropped considerably since 2019.

Abe Fernandez, director of children’s aid at the National Center for Community Schools, said the numbers show the pandemic’s continued impacts.

“Even though kids’ schools are back in session and in some ways people feel like things are back to normal, those numbers suggest that there’s still a lot of impact,” Fernandez contended. “Kind of the long-term effects of the pandemic and I think we’ve lost a lot of ground when it comes to academic achievement.”

Chronic absenteeism among students is up in New York state, following a national trend. The report showed 30% of students were chronically absent, almost pre-pandemic levels. Fernandez feels investments in New York schools will reduce absenteeism and drive better student outcomes.

While the pandemic has affected education, the report showed it is not the only reason student outcomes declined. Educators, lawmakers, and researchers have been concerned about academic preparedness for some time.

Leslie Boissiere, vice president of external affairs for the Annie E. Casey Foundation, said compared to other nations, the U.S. is not equipping students with the best education.

“Our economy is propelled by a prepared workforce,” Boissiere emphasized. “In order for our economy to work well, it’s important that we prepare young people with the skills that they need so that they are entering the workforce prepared.”

She added education disparities are worse for students of color, kids in immigrant or low-income families, or those attending low-income schools. The gaps can affect their ability to thrive as adults.