U.S. Senators Tim Scott (R-S.C.), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Bob Casey (D-Pa.), and Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.) introduced the Assessing Children’s Academic Development and the Emotional and Mental Health Implications of COVID-19 (ACADEMIC) Act. The legislation would authorize the U.S. Department of Education, in coordination with other relevant federal agencies, to expand a current COVID-19 study to better assess the impact of the pandemic on student outcomes and well-being. Over the last two years, it is evident the COVID-19 pandemic has had a profound impact on students’ academic achievement and mental and physical health. This legislation ensures the public and policymakers have a more complete understanding of how the pandemic affected students and what steps need to be taken to support students moving forward. A one-pager of the bill is available here.

“From learning loss to mental health crises, the damaging effects of school closures on our nation’s children are already undeniable,” Scott said. “If we want to move forward, we must examine the long-term repercussions for today’s youth, who will be tomorrow’s leaders. The success of our nation depends on it.”

“COVID disrupted the lives of students across the country and we are only beginning to see the harm done to our kids,” Rubio said. “Understanding the pandemic’s long-term impact on students’ academic achievement and well-being is critical to avoiding future mistakes and correcting the ones we’ve made.” 

“Thanks to the American Rescue Plan, we have made progress to help students persevere through the challenges of remote learning and pandemic disruptions,” Casey said. “We owe it to American students to continue to support them, and that starts with understanding the long-term impact of the pandemic on students’ academic achievement and mental, physical, social and emotional health. The ACADEMIC Act will invest in research on these effects and enable us to understand how to best help our kids.”

“Students need to be in school and we are only beginning to understand the impact of school closures on kids and teenagers,” Hassan said. “It’s clear that more research needs to be done so we can better assess learning loss and social impacts, as well as other effects. The results of this study will help give us a roadmap to figuring out how we can best help our kids and support their education.”

Specifically, the ACADEMIC Act:

  • Authorizes the incorporation of this new interagency longitudinal component to an existing longitudinal educational study under the Institute of Education Sciences (IES), which is required to begin no later than two years after enactment;  
  • Measures the long-term impact of COVID-related school closures, remote learning, and other factors on pre-kindergarten, elementary and secondary school students, including academic achievement (learning loss), social-emotional wellbeing, and mental, behavioral, and physical health;  
  • Assesses a representative group of students, including residents of rural and urban localities, female and male students, and students from different grades, races, ethnicities, and incomes;  
  • Examines the impacts on specific subgroups of students including low-income students, military connected students, students experiencing homelessness, students in foster care, students in the juvenile justice system, students with disabilities, students who are English learners, and migratory students; and  
  • Requires the secretary of education to release a preliminary summary of findings to the public no later than one year after the end of the data collection.

Read full text of the bill here.

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