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California Outperforms Most States in Minimizing Learning Loss in National Student Assessment, with Record Investments to Improve Education

NAEP data show California students held steady in reading while the nation declined, lost less ground in math than students nationally

California invested $23.8 billion to mitigate learning loss due to the pandemic, and Governor Newsom has increased education spending to record levels

SACRAMENTO – Assessment data released today show that California performed better than most other states and the nation from 2019-22, but the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic continue to impact student achievement overall and across all student groups. These results demonstrate the importance of California’s $23.8 billion to support students during the pandemic and as they returned to the classroom, and the continued educational transformations that California has implemented.

“California focused on keeping kids safe during the pandemic while making record investments to mitigate learning loss and transforming our education system,” said Governor Gavin Newsom. “While California’s students experienced less learning loss than those in most other states during the pandemic, these results are not a celebration but a call to action – students are struggling academically and we need to keep getting them the resources they need to thrive. That’s why we’ve made record investments in education, created a new pre-K grade, implemented universal free meals, expanded before and after school programs, bolstered mental health, and more.”

According to the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) results in reading and math for 4th and 8th graders nationwide, California’s NAEP reading scores remained relatively steady while most other states and the national average showed declines, and math scores didn’t decline as much as most other states or the national average.

Here’s how California’s 4th grade students performed on the NAEP reading assessment in 2022 compared to 2019, in the context of the performance of students in other states across this same time period:

Here’s how California’s 8th grade students performed on the NAEP reading assessment in 2022 compared to 2019, in the context of the performance of students in other states across this same time period:

Here’s how California’s 4th grade students performed on the NAEP math assessment in 2022 compared to 2019, in the context of the performance of students in other states across this same time period:

Here’s how California’s 8th grade students performed on the NAEP math assessment in 2022 compared to 2019, in the context of the performance of students in other states across this same time period:

Last summer, California’s schools offered robust summer programming to recover learning loss and prepare for a successful 2021-22 school year – with 89% of schools offering summer programs with mental health and tutoring services.

In 2021-22, California schools stayed open for in-person instruction at a higher rate than schools in other states. The massive statewide effort to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 included hundreds of millions of dollars to provide tens of millions of COVID-19 tests, vaccines, and PPE, as well as comprehensive guidance to maintain health and safety during in-person instruction.

Earlier this year, California was awarded the nation’s preeminent award for education innovation.

$23.8 Billion to Address Learning Loss and Support Students

  • 2020: $5.3 billion when students were distance learning to mitigate learning loss, bridge the digital divide, extend the school year, provide academic supports, offer tutoring, and more.

  • 2021: $10.6 billion to help get kids back into the classroom and bolster student supports, including $2 billion for In-Person Instruction Grants, $4.6 billion for Expanded Learning Opportunities Grants (summer school, tutoring, mental health, and learning acceleration), and $4 billion for expanded-day, full-year instruction and enrichment for elementary students.

  • 2022: $7.9 billion for Learning Block Recovery Grants to extend the school year, closing learning gaps and tutoring, counseling and mental health services, more instruction for struggling students, and new academic services.

California’s Transformational Education Actions

  • MORE EDUCATION FUNDING THAN EVER BEFORE. Governor Newsom allocated $170 billion for education in California, the highest funding levels for education in state history.

  • UNIVERSAL TRANSITIONAL KINDERGARTEN (TK). Public schools will add a new grade before  kindergarten. By 2025, schools will serve an additional 450,000 children per year, giving all parents access to free, high-quality early care and education.

  • UNIVERSAL ACCESS FOR YOUTH MENTAL HEALTH. With California’s $4.7 billion Master Plan for Kids’ Mental Health, all young people ages 0-25 will have ready access to mental health supports both inside and outside of school.

  • UNIVERSAL SCHOOL MEALS. All students, regardless of income, have access to two free school meals per day – up to 12 million meals per day statewide. And $800 million was invested to increase access to fresh, high-quality, and locally-sourced meals.

  • EXPANDED ACCESS TO AFTER-SCHOOL AND SUMMER LEARNING. Elementary school students from low-income households, foster youth, and English learners will have access to enrichment programs year-round and 9 hours per day. At full scale in 2025, the $4 billion-per-year effort will serve an additional 1.5 million students per year.

  • COMMUNITY SCHOOLS. Roughly 1 out of every 3 schools in California will receive $4.1 billion to become ‘community schools’ to focus more on parent engagement, expanded access to mental health supports, and wraparound services.

  • MORE TEACHERS, MORE COUNSELORS, AND MORE PARAEDUCATORS. Lower staff-to-student ratios means higher levels of support for students. With additional funding, ratios will be lowered across settings, including a reduction from 24:1 to 10:1 for transitional kindergarten and $1.1 billion in annual funding for high-poverty schools to hire up to 5 more staff each.

  • ELIMINATE TEACHER SHORTAGES, IMPROVE PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT. California invested a record $3.6 billion to improve educator recruitment, retention and training. That includes $500 million to attract new teachers and counselors to schools that need them most, $600 million for Teacher Residency programs, $1.5 billion for the Educator Effectiveness Block Grant, and more.

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