Florida ranks No. 6 in COVID education success survey, report says

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — When it comes to each state’s academic performance during the COVID-19 pandemic, some states have fared better than others. The National Bureau of Economic Research has ranked all 50 states and the District of Columbia, with Florida in sixth place overall.

The National Bureau of Economic Research is a nonprofit, nonpartisan economic research organization established in 1920.

the NBER study states ranked by measuring their unemployment levels, gross domestic product, average economic scores, percentage of in-person schooling completed, age, and metabolic health adjusted for the number of COVID-19 deaths per 100,000 population , and some other census details. In the top 10 states for the ranking, Montana and South Dakota had the highest number of deaths per 100,000 from COVID-19.

Ahead of Florida were Utah, Nebraska, Vermont, Montana and South Dakota. Combining all the scoring elements, Florida achieved an overall score of 79.9, giving it an A, according to the study.

Florida had the second highest percentage of students participating in in-person instruction, at 96.2%. Arkansas, ranked No. 9 overall, had the highest percentage of the top 10 states, with 96.8% of students learning at school in person.

According to the rankings used, Florida had an unemployment rate of 2.1%, a GDP of -1.5% and an average economic score of 0.57. The study says that means Florida’s GDP was 1.5% lower than pre-pandemic levels, based on the fourth quarter of fiscal 2019.

Here are the top 10 US states according to the NBER study.

Rank Grade State Scaled combined score Unemployment (Industry Adjusted) In-person schooling Deaths from COVID-19 per 100,000
1 A+ Utah 100 1.5% 87.3% 252.7
2 A+ Nebraska 97 0.6% 87% 257.9
3 A+ Vermont 96.9 1.7% 79.5% 155.5
4 A Montana 83.4 0.2% 85.7% 344.6
5 A South Dakota 80.4 0.7% 89.3% 344.9
6 A Florida 79.9 2.1% 96.2% 277.1
7 A New Hampshire 79.2 2.3% 60.9% 192.5
8 A Maine 78.6 2.5% 58.1% 171.8
9 A Arkansas 77.7 2.0% 96.8% 287.9
ten B Idaho 74.1 1.5% 70.6% 305.1
(Source: NBER)

The NBER study compared school closures to mortality, but upon review the data did not lead them to “believe this relationship was causal”. Essentially, school closures had no impact on mortality during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to data used in the NBER study. In terms of what this means for state policy, it lends additional credence to the state’s position that more positive outcomes have been produced when children learn in person and school closures schools had no impact on COVID-19 deaths.

Additionally, the study established a link between lockdowns and economic performance.

“Unsurprisingly, there was a strong relationship between states that had poor economic performance and closed schools – lockdown states,” the NBER said in the study. Florida has remained wide open during the 2020 to 2021 school year, and its economy has performed well, as evidenced by the state budget and legislative pronouncements to that effect for most of 2021 and until 2022.

While Florida had one of the highest mortality levels among the top 10 states, with about 277 people dying from COVID-19 per 100,000, the study found that a good portion of those deaths, and the like across the country, were due to comorbidity factors, while economic success was reduced in states with larger proportions of hotel and lodging industries.

“Pandemic mortality was higher in states where obesity, diabetes and old age were more prevalent before the pandemic,” the NBER reported. “Economic activity was less in states that had been intensive, especially in accommodation and food.”

While Utah ranked No. 1, New Jersey ranked No. 51, earning the lowest score of all in the United States.

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