After two years of remote learning and hybrid classes, New Jersey's K-12 students continue to struggle and are in danger of falling even farther behind.

Even with in-person learning since the start of the current school year, the struggles are evidence in every grade level.

The non-profit education advocacy group JerseyCAN recently completed the first comprehensive look at so-called 'learning loss,' and the results should alarm every parent.

  • On average, New Jersey students lost 30% of expected learning in English Language Arts (ELA) and 36% of expected learning in Math, but the loss was greater for Black students, who lost on average 43% in ELA and 50% in Math.
  • Similarly, Latinx students lost 37% of expected learning in ELA and 40% in Math.
  • While economically disadvantaged students experienced a learning loss of approximately 40% in ELA, similar to their more affluent peers, they experienced a greater expected learning loss in Math of 43% compared to just 33% for non-economically disadvantaged students.

JerseyCAN predicts if current trends continue, as many as 430,000 students in grades 3-8 will not be on grade level by the end of this current school year.

For students in high school, particularly those in grades 11 and 12, the impact of learning loss is more significant. They have less time to catch up, and would bring educational deficits into higher education settings.

It is not just in areas of study that our kids are struggling.

Experts have also seen a severe erosion in social and inter-personal skills, as well as a rise in mental health issues such as anxiety.

The National Education Association says school counselors and psychologists were sounding the alarm at the earliest stages of the pandemic that the isolation endured by students was taking a severe toll.

They warned addressing these social and mental health issues should not be shrugged off as schools focused on getting students back-on-track academically.

How these stresses have manifested as students returned to class have been varied.

Some formerly outgoing students have become isolated, others are acting out, either against their classmates or against teachers.

New Jersey has seen an increase in bullying, both on-line and in-person.

The American Psychological Association released a new survey on Wednesday that finds one-third of teachers report that they experienced at least one incident of verbal harassment or threat of violence from students during the pandemic.

There are things parents can do to address both the academic and mental health trauma many kids are experiencing.

That is why New Jersey 101.5 is presenting a special Town Hall broadcast on Thursday, March 24, from 7-8 p.m.

I will be hosting a panel of educational and mental health experts that will help you identify the signs your child is struggling, and offer real help for taking corrective action.

More details about the program can be found here.

Eric Scott is the senior political director and anchor for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach him at eric.scott@townsquaremedia.com

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NJ teachers and educators caught in sex crime busts

Over the past few years, state lawmakers have taken on the challenge of dealing with accused child predators among the ranks of teachers and educators.

In 2018, the so-called “pass the trash” law went into effect, requiring stricter New Jersey school background checks related to child abuse and sexual misconduct.

The follow individuals were arrested over the past several years. Some have been convicted and sentenced to prison, while others have accepted plea deals for probation.

Others cases are still pending, including some court delays amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

NJ words that should be added to the dictionary

13 words submitted by Steve Trevelise's followers for inclusion in the Dictionary — because somebody's got to explain New Jersey to the rest of the country.

Questions to ask to see if someone’s REALLY from New Jersey