📚 State figures show kids are struggling to adjust to being in a classroom

📚 The School Performance Report shows some alarming trends

📚 New Jersey does fare better than most states, however

As classrooms reopened after nearly two-years of pandemic closures, New Jersey students are still having a hard time adjusting.

The latest School Performance Report from the New Jersey Department of Education shows struggles among students academically, socially and behaviorally.

When releasing the report, education officials cautioned some of the statistics may be skewed by pandemic irregularities, but there are some disturbing trends.

Missing School

One of the most alarming trends in the report is the number of kids who did not regularly return to the classroom when in-person learning resumed following nearly two-years of remote learning.

Chronic absenteeism is defined as a student missing more than 10% of the school year, or approximately 18-days of classroom instruction.

While there has been a slight rise overall, the biggest increases are among economically disadvantaged and students and students with disabilities.

Nearly 30% of students in economically disadvantaged areas of the state are listed as chronically absent.

For students with disabilities its over 25%.

Still, the numbers are better in New Jersey than the rest of the nation where those figures have doubled compared to pre-pandemic levels.

College Prep

The number of students taking college preparatory exams like the SAT, PSAT and ACT is down compared to before the pandemic.

While some of that may be due to colleges and universities placing less emphasis on test scores for admission, there has been a definite decline in the number of test takers.

The good news in this category is that test scores have remained relatively flat, with no discernible decline in proficiency.

Figures also show the number of students taking advanced placement classes has remained steady at 35%.

Bad Behavior

Many education and child behavior experts worried during the pandemic that readjusting to a classroom environment would be difficult for many students.

This latest state report seems to indicate that has been the case.

Violence, vandalism, harassment, intimidation, bullying and substance offenses have all seen an increase as kids returned to classrooms.

Social interaction skills may have eroded during time away from school.

So-called HIB incidents (Harassment, Intimidation, Bullying) rose nearly nine percent.

At the same time, punishments have actually declined.

The number of out-of-school suspensions are flat, but the number of in-school suspensions has dropped nearly 18%.

What does it all mean?

The report clearly shows that some students are struggling to recover both academically and emotionally from the pandemic.

Pandemic learning loss has also been well documented, and many schools continue to struggle to get kids caught up.

However, New Jersey as a whole, fares better than most other states in terms of the damage done to learning during the pandemic.

You can access the report for your individual school district by clicking 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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