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50-State Data: Pandemic Learning Loss, Failure to Equip Children for School Threatens U.S. Economy, Young People’s Future

BALTIMORE–(BUSINESS WIRE)–The failure of the U.S. to prepare our kids to learn is setting up millions of young people to struggle through adulthood. If leaders don’t make sure students learn what they missed out on during the pandemic, it could cost our children hundreds of billions of dollars in future earnings and the U.S. economy trillions in lost activity. The 2024 KIDS COUNT® Data Book, released today by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, uses 50-state data to call attention to the factors that cause these challenges.

Chronic absence has soared, with children living in poverty especially unable to resume their school day routines on a regular basis. Key findings from the most recent school year available (2021-2022) include:

  • Thirty percent of all students (14.7 million students) were chronically absent, nearly double pre-pandemic rates (16% in 2018–19). Two out of three students attended schools plagued by chronic absence.
  • Four out of ten (40%) had undergone at least one adverse childhood experience (ACE), such as family economic hardship or their parents having divorced, separated or served time in jail.

These averages mask even worse educational outcomes for students of color, kids in immigrant families and children from low-income families or attending low-income schools.

“Kids of all ages and grades must have what they need to learn each day, such as enough food and sleep and a safe way to get to school, as well as the additional resources they might need to perform at their highest potential and thrive, like tutoring and mental health services,” said Lisa Hamilton, president and CEO of the Annie E. Casey Foundation. “Our policies and priorities have not focused on these factors in preparing young people for the economy, short-changing a whole generation.”

Lack of readiness will result in major harm to our economy and to our youth as they join the workforce. Up to $31 trillion in U.S. economic activity hinges on helping young people complete learning delayed by the pandemic. The Casey Foundation urges states to spend their share of the $190 billion in critical federal pandemic funding (Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief, or ESSER) that could help boost achievement. The deadline to allocate – not spend – this funding is September 30.

The 2024 KIDS COUNT® Data Book is available at


Beau Boughamer | [email protected] | 410-458-5018

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