WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) – Students are getting worse at reading and math, according to a national study. The new numbers show a dramatic drop in student performance in the United States – and education leaders are looking at ways to fix it.

Each year, the National Assessment of Educational Progress tests 9-year-old students. This year, for the first time, kids scored worse in math and reading scores fell more than they have in 30 years.

Education Secretary Miguel Cardona says the numbers are upsetting.

“As a father and an educator, it’s disturbing,” Cardona said.

He blames both the pandemic and the Trump administration for the scores.

“The efforts were not there to safely reopen schools. It was a lot of rhetoric but no action,” Cardona said.

Now that kids are back in the classroom, education leaders have work to do to make up for the lost learning. American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten is optimistic kids can make a comeback.

“We are pedal to the medal to help kids achieve, recover and thrive,” Weingarten said.

Secretary Cardona says states should be using money from the American Rescue Plan to improve schools.

“Providing the resources needed so that we’re not talking about teacher shortages. We should be talking about smaller class sizes, about ongoing tutoring,” Cardona said.

Weingarten suggests that federal leaders can also help educators connect to share best practices.

“What are the strategies that are really working to actually help accelerate instruction?” Weingarten said.

She also says political division over curriculum debates and book bans are distracting from learning.

“We need to create a can-do, problem solving, unifying, back to basics environment in schools,” Weingarten said.