Wednesday, October 26, 2022

Oklahoma’s education “Report Card” shows devastating student learning loss

Oklahoma’s Education “Report Card” Shows Devastating Student Learning Loss
State’s Decline in Reading and Math Scores are Twice as Bad as National Average

OKLAHOMA CITY (Oct. 24th) – American Federation for Children – Oklahoma (AFC-OK) today called on state leaders in education to pursue systemic change to address plummeting student achievement.

A report released today by the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) shows alarming declines in student performance in both math and reading in Oklahoma. While attributable in part to the COVID-19 pandemic, student performance in Oklahoma has declined throughout Superintendent Joy Hofmeister’s tenure, which began in 2015.

NAEP results, published as part of “The Nation’s Report Card,” show an eight-point decline since 2019 in fourth grade reading and a seven-point decline in eighth grade reading in Oklahoma. The national average was a three-point decline in both grades. Only two states had worse declines in 4th grade reading (Delaware and Virginia). Only one state showed a worse decline in 8th grade reading (Maine).

In 2015, 33 percent of Oklahoma’s fourth grade students scored proficient in reading. That percentage declined to 29 percent in 2019 and further declined to 24 percent in 2022. Eighth graders experienced a similar decline in reading levels, with 29 percent proficient in 2015, 26 percent proficient in 2019, and just 21 percent proficient in 2022.

In math, Oklahoma’s fourth grade scores dropped eight points, compared to a five-point drop across the nation. Oklahoma eighth graders dropped 13 points, compared to an eight-point national decline. That 13-point drop for Oklahoma 8th graders was the largest decrease in performance in the nation.

Like reading, proficiency in math has declined substantially during Supt. Hofmeister’s tenure. Thirty-seven percent of Oklahoma 4th graders were proficient in reading in 2015, compared with 35 percent in 2019 and 27 percent in 2022. In 8th grade, 23 percent of Oklahoma students were proficient in 2015, 26 percent in 2019, and just 16 percent in 2022.

“The release of Oklahoma’s NAEP scores should be a wakeup call to parents and to the education establishment,” said AFC-OK Senior Advisor Jennifer Carter. “We should be in crisis mode. There is a generation of students that has suffered severe learning loss. That is a national phenomenon, but it has hit Oklahoma students harder than the rest of the country.”

Carter said that, while the national, across-the-board decline in student performance can be attributed in-part to COVID, Oklahoma’s particularly poor performance is evidence of deeper, systemic problems in the way the state approaches education.

“School closures and the switch to online learning in many districts have no doubt contributed to learning loss, absenteeism, and lower academic performance,” said Carter. “But Oklahoma fared worse than other states, like California, that had far more stringent COVID restrictions and more prolonged closures. In fact, learning loss in Oklahoma is about twice as bad as the national average.”

Carter also rejected the claim that Oklahoma’s poor student performance can be blamed on funding.

“The decline in student performance follows record funding increases for public schools as well as subsequent boosts for teacher pay raises and other educational costs,” said Carter. “Our poor educational outcomes cannot be blamed on lack of funding.” 

Carter said leaders in public education must accept that the status quo is failing our students and work with lawmakers to pursue meaningful systemic change.

“Our current system has led to stagnation,” said Carter. “It rewards mediocrity and complacency while rejecting any change or competition.  State leaders, including Governor Kevin Stitt and Senate Pro Tem Greg Treat, have dared to challenge that system by working to give parents more choices when it comes to educating their kids. At every turn, they are met in opposition by teachers unions and defenders of the establishment, who oppose any threat to the status quo. Chief among those obstructionists is State Superintendent Joy Hofmeister, who has catered to every union whim while doing nothing to address declining student performance. Her administration and her devotion to the status quo is quite literally delivering some of the worst education outcomes in the nation.” 

“If we are going to reverse these disturbing trends, we need to give parents the ability to choose the schools that best fit their children, to leave schools that are not good fits, and to give them resources to support these choices,” said Carter. “If we do not, our children will find themselves, for the first time ever, less capable of basic reading, writing and arithmetic than the generation before them.”

About AFC-Oklahoma
The American Federation for Children-Oklahoma seeks to empower families, especially lower-income families, with the freedom to choose the best K-12 education for their children. We are a project of the American Federation for Children (AFC). For more information, visit


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