2019 PISA scores confirm American students are not making progress – What you need to know

The past few week, results from two assessments – National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) and Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) – have given cause for those of us in the education world to become unsettled and frustrated. Divine wisdom is most assuredly needed for our nation’s educational leaders at this time.

From NAEP we learned that across 17 states in 4th grade reading, and 31 states in 8th grade reading, there was a decrease in scores while math results remained relatively flat. From PISA scores we learned that American 15-year old students have not shown any significant gains in math over the last 18 years.

PISA scores give us the opportunity to compare our academic output against the output of other countries, however, this is a petty exercise if we do not experience greater academic achievement within ourselves.

It is not that our nation does not have or has not had groups of k-12 students who are succeeding academically, becoming adequately prepared for college or a career; it is that the high-achieving groups are made up of students from certain populations that have historically been high-achieving, and low-achieving groups are made up of students from certain populations that have historically been low-achieving. The division continues to be highly predicated on a family’s socioeconomic status or zip code, and many of the Hispanic families that our churches serve fall into the lower SES bracket and live in zip codes with underperforming schools. Yet, in Christ there is always reason to hope.

This week, I want to encourage you to take a look at a recent opinion article that reminds us that “rather than “resetting” education or continuing to revisit old political fights, we should be investing and doubling-down on what works . . . following evidence-based practices that we know help prepare students for post-secondary success.”

Right now is not the time for us to become discouraged or to maintain the status quo but to continue to “raise the standards” for our students so that they can reach their fullest God-given potential as bearers of the imago Dei.

Forward and higher in Christ,

Rev. Girien R. Salazar
Executive Director, FE Coalition