Washington, D.C. — Today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), Chair of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP), issued the following statement on the latest National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) scores, which detail students’ math and reading performance in 2022.
“Getting our kids’ learning back on track is a top priority for me—and it needs to be for Congress, too. Since the start of the pandemic, I understood how critical it was to get schools the resources they needed to support students and weather an unprecedented public health crisis—and that’s why I worked across the aisle to pass the CARES Act in March 2020 and deliver more resources in December 2020. Then, when Republicans refused to work with Democrats, I led my Democratic colleagues in passing the American Rescue Plan. In that bill, we delivered the single biggest federal investment to K-12 schools in history—all without a single Republican vote—and I specifically made sure that states and school districts were required to use a portion of these resources to address learning loss.
“In Washington state, schools are using the resources Democrats provided to hire more counselors, provide more tutoring, expand after-school and summer learning opportunities, and much more. This is more important now than ever, and I am continuing to closely monitor how states and school districts are responding to students’, parents’, and educators’ needs to ensure these resources are used effectively—and to determine where we can redouble our efforts to better support our students.
“To me, this data makes clear the urgent challenge we are facing. After incredibly tough years educating our students while tackling COVID, we absolutely have to tackle learning loss and deliver for our kids. My message to students, parents, and educators in Washington state is: I am behind you one hundred percent, and I will not stop working until our students are caught up and succeeding.”
Senator Murray has long fought to ensure students can get a quality education, and from the very beginning of the pandemic, she worked to deliver resources for schools to reopen safely for in-person learning and support students, families, and educators throughout the public health crisis. In March 2020, Senator Murray introduced the Supporting Students in Response to Coronavirus Act to support students as COVID-19 spread, and she proceeded to work across the aisle to deliver resources to schools to support students in the CARES Act in March 2020 and in December 2020 through the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act (CRRSAA). In March 2021, Senator Murray helped secure critical resources for K-12 schools in the American Rescue Plan. She worked to require a portion of the resources are specifically used to address learning loss—and has pushed to ensure the resources are being used effectively to help students get back on track. Senator Murray is also fighting to ensure critical funding for public K-12 schools in the upcoming year-end spending package.
In Washington state, the resources Senator Murray helped deliver through the American Rescue Plan have so far been used to launch summer learning programs across the state, expand mental health services for students in Vancouver, provide counseling in Highline Public Schools, bolster students’ learning in science, hire graduation success coaches in Battle Ground Public Schools, and much more. Washington state received resources under the American Rescue Plan through the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund (ESSER). Washington state school districts are required to spend a portion of these resources under ESSER on evidence-based practices to address learning loss and meet students’ academic, social, emotional, and mental health needs.