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ST. PAUL, Minnesota. Oct. 24, 2022 _ Students in Minnesota, and most other states, posted dramatically lower scores on the highly regarded National Assessment of Educational Progress in the spring of 2022 than did students who took the exams before the once-in-lifetime disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“These scores are disappointing, but not surprising, after a pandemic that killed thousands of Minnesotans and sickened tens of thousands,” said Denise Specht, president of Education Minnesota. “Every classroom in Minnesota was touched by this pandemic and many of our students, educators and schools haven’t recovered. Our union has been talking about this situation for a year.”
Specht said the evidence can be found in nearly every school building.
“Most Minnesota schools have open jobs for teachers, education support professionals and mental health care professionals – and the shortage is at crisis levels in some places,” she said. “Raising the academic achievement of students will require Minnesotans to stand up and demand their elected leaders provide the resources schools need to give every student access to a great educator, in a small class, in a welcoming and supportive school.“
Some commentators have been using the NAEP scores to rehash the debate about when was the right time to reopen school buildings during the pandemic. Specht said a more productive conversation is about the learning conditions inside those buildings. Many schools opened without enough staff or substitute teachers, so students were shuffled between classrooms and auditoriums. Teachers were frequently asked to teach unfamiliar topics. The omicron variant forced some schools to close for a few days this winter.
“Minnesota educators are working harder than they ever have before, but their working conditions are burning them out,” Specht said. “Losing experienced educators hurts everyone, including students. The NAEP scores are disappointing, but delaying action on the challenges educators are facing right now would be much, much worse.”
About Education Minnesota
Education Minnesota is the voice for professional educators and students. Education Minnesota’s members include teachers and education support professionals in Minnesota’s public school districts, faculty members at Minnesota’s community and technical colleges and University of Minnesota campuses in Duluth and Crookston, retired educators and student teachers. Education Minnesota is affiliated with the American Federation of Teachers, National Education Association and AFL-CIO.