East Pittsburgh, PA
6:00 am8:49 pm EDT
July 12, 2024 6:54 am

Local News

Report: PA ranks 23rd among states in child well-being


Danielle Smith, Public News Service

Pennsylvania ranks in the middle among states for the well-being of its children, at 23rd overall in the new Kids Count Data Book from the Annie E. Casey Foundation.

The annual Data Book ranks states in four categories: economic well-being, education, health, and community and family.

Leslie Boissiere, vice president of external affairs for the Annie E. Casey Foundation, said the report found significant dips in the percentage of children who were reading proficiently by the end of fourth grade and in the percentage of students who were proficient in basic math.

“We know both those skills are critically important not only to academic success, but to make sure that young people are prepared for the workforce,” Boissiere emphasized.

Pennsylvania ranks 16th in education and showed improvement in high school students not graduating on time. From 2018 to 2019, it was14% and decreased to 13% from 2020 to 2021.

Boissiere noted the pandemic is not solely to blame for the country’s worsening educational outcomes. Educators, researchers, policymakers, and employers who track students’ academic readiness have been ringing alarm bells for a long time.

“For example the pandemic erased decades of increases in math scores,” Boissiere pointed out. “However, if you look over those 35 years that we’ve produced the Data Book we’ve never seen a significant percentage of children who were either proficient in fourth grade reading or basic math.”

The reported encouraged states and communities to examine several approaches to help improve the well-being of children and address some of the pandemic’s effects.

“We know some of the things that work,” Boissiere stressed. “Both in remediating or providing additional supports for kids who may have fallen behind such as high dosage tutoring, creating environments within schools where all kids feel like they can belong, and looking at evidence-based curriculum approaches.”

Boissiere added some states have delayed spending their share of the $190 billion in critical federal pandemic funding known as Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief, which could help boost achievement. The deadline to allocate — not spend — the funding is Sept. 30, 2024.

This article originally appeared on Public News Service and is republished here under a Creative Commons license.