As new research emerges about the many long-term effects that the COVID-19 pandemic lockdowns had, many of those long-lasting and quantifiable effects have been on K-12 students economically, physically, and socially as schools were shut down, forcing students to miss school and learn online. Here are five ways COVID school closures are responsible for education learning losses.
1. Low Math and Reading Results
According to a study by Stanford University economic and education expert Eric Hanushek, the nationwide decline in eighth-grade math scores comes thanks to the COVID-era school closures, given that the average drop in math scores amounted to eight points, the largest ever recorded. In a study by the “Nation’s Report Card” on Educational Progress since the beginning of the pandemic, math scores for eighth graders fell in every state, with 26 percent of eighth graders proficient, down from 34 percent only four years ago. Fourth graders, on the other hand, fared only slightly better, with declines in 41 states with just 36 percent of fourth graders being proficient in math and down from 41 percent. The study also noted that reading scores declined in more than half of the states, continuing the downward trend that began before the pandemic, with no state showing any improvements. Additionally, fourth grade students in the bottom 25th percentile lost more ground compared with students at the top of their class, leaving the low-performing students behind.
2. State-Level Economic Loss
According to the New York Post, one of the major tolls of the COVID-era school closures will be the penalty of lifetime earnings due to remote schooling, resulting in as much as $28 trillion over the remainder of the 21st century. The study by Harvard and Stanford education experts revealed that the average drop in math and reading schools erased all the gains since 2000, leading to as much as 0.8 missed years of school and a lifetime penalty of 5.6 percent to earnings. States that saw a six-point drop, like California, saw the largest state-level economic loss, amounting to $1.3 trillion. Experts say that lower math and reading scores correlate with a higher likelihood of unemployment and low financial stability. With states still recovering from the pandemic lockdowns, Democratic states are still reeling from the economic loss after facing resistance from the Teacher’s Unions to re-open sooner.
3. Drop-in Public-School Attendance
With parents having access to their children’s online public-school curriculum and many teachers refusing to teach, research found a nine percent drop in students attending public schools from spring of 2020 to November 2020. According to Education Next, in spring of 2020, 81 percent of schoolchildren in the United States were enrolled in district schools, and by November of that year, enrollment in district schools plummeted to 72 percent. Private schools, on the other hand, have seen some significant gains in enrollment, with public charter school enrollment jumping up seven percent. According to the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, 39 of the 31 states with public charter schools saw 240,000 kids enrolled. Christian colleges and universities have seen an increase in enrollment as well, given their less stringent policies regarding lockdowns and protection from woke curriculum.
4. Battle Between Parents and Teachers Unions
With schools not being vectors of COVID transmission, the United Federation of Teachers worked hand-in-glove with the federal government and Democratic officials, according to the New York Post. As a result, students and parents were forced to accept less-effective remote education, leading to negative mental, social, and educational effects. Even though study after study showed that schools were not contributing to the spread of the disease, the UTF continued to fight parents and school-opening advocates, pouring billions of dollars into politicians and activists to fight against schools that considered opening up again. With parents speaking out against the Teachers Union, many resorted to homeschooling their kids, creating their own school sessions with other parents, or enrolling them in private schools.
5. Livelihood Misery
With the divorce rates increasing during the pandemic and children and teens isolated and unable to interact with one another, the drug rates among young people in the U.S. increased along with depression, anxiety, worry, and suicide deaths. During the pandemic, many workers and families lost their jobs and ability to provide for themselves, leading to financial worries and adding to the depression rate. According to a recent Harvard Study, the education lockdowns and the low reading, writing, and math test scores following the pandemic correlate with higher likelihoods of incarceration, teen pregnancy, and the use of food-stamp benefits and lower odds of owning a home, marriage, and full-time employment. Without high performance in school, experts say that the incoming generation that felt these effects have difficulty adjusting to live in-person school and the workforce even though restrictions have been lifted.