N.H. Students have high well-being, but lower test scores

N.H. Students have high well-being, but lower test scores

N.H. Students have high well-being, but lower test scores

June 12, 2024

New Hampshire News Connection

Kathryn Carley

New Hampshire ranks first in the nation for overall child well-being but trauma and pandemic-related learning loss continue to impact students, according to a new report.
The latest Kids Count Data Book from the Annie E. Casey Foundation gives the Granite State high marks for health and economic well-being but more than one in three children have suffered an adverse experience like witnessing domestic violence or parents serving time in jail.
Rebecca Woitkowski, policy director for the nonprofit New Futures, said even unstable housing reveals itself in students' academic performance.
"There are trends that we need to be directing our communities and lawmakers to be aware of," Woitkowski contended. "And continue to redirect resources to ensure that children have what they need in New Hampshire."
Woitkowski pointed out the state has more than $300 million in unspent federal pandemic funding, which could provide greater access to low- or no-cost meals, in-person tutoring and mental health services.
New Hampshire students' declining academic scores mirror national trends. While more children ages 3 and 4 are enrolled in school, fourth grade reading proficiency worsened. And, 71% of eighth graders are not considered proficient in math.
Leslie Boissiere, vice president of external affairs for the Annie E. Casey Foundation, said rates of chronic absenteeism among students are nearly double pre-pandemic rates.
"Their test scores tend to be lower, they tend to be more likely to be suspended and less likely to complete school on time," Boissiere reported. "It also affects the overall atmosphere of the classroom as the teacher is always working to catch students up."
Boissiere noted fewer high school students in New Hampshire are graduating on time with potential impacts on the overall economy. Studies show more than $30 trillion in economic activity hinges on helping young people complete learning delayed by the pandemic. Research shows students who do not advance beyond lower levels of math may be 50% more likely to be unemployed after high school.

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