See below for a press release from the Virginia Department of Education regarding “[r]esults from Standards of Learning and other state assessments taken by Virginia students during the 2021-2022 school year.” According to this press release, “Despite one-year gains in most subjects, student achievement in all areas remained well below pre-pandemic levels.” When looking at these results, keep in mind (obviously) that we had the COVID pandemic, which unfortunately resulted in closure of many schools for lengthy periods of time for the safety of students and staff (although also note that Gov. Northam announced in June 2020 that schools would reopen for the 2020-2021 school year, with different individual school districts choosing different options – fully in-person, fully remote or hybrid in-person/remote). That’s very unfortunate, of course, and it’s absolutely crucial that everything is done so that kids can catch up on learning lost during the pandemic. No doubt, as the press release points out, “in-person instruction matters,” which is why the only reason to shut schools for extended periods of time should be if there are serious risks to the health or even lives of the students and/or staff.
The good news is that we now have VERY effective vaccines against COVID-19, schools are open, and “With the exception of writing, students overall and students in all demographic groups made progress in 2021-2022, compared with performance during 2020-2021.” So let’s keep that going, focus on getting students back on track, and ditch the ridiculous, irresponsible right-wing talking points about how schools should have reopened earlier, even before we had vaccines in late 2020/early 2021. The fact is, at the time, school leaders did the best they could, given the information we had at the time, with the goal of protecting everyone AND continuing learning. But again, obviously, in-person learning is the best, unless there are overriding reasons – such as a deadly pandemic – to switch to virtual/remote options.