Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee

NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) - State-level test results from the 2020-21 Spring TCAP assessments show that pandemic-related disruptions to education led to declines in student academic proficiency in the state, across all subjects and grade bands, as expected, Gov. Bill Lee and Tennessee Department of Education Commission Penny Schwinn announced during a news conference at the Tennessee State Capitol on Monday.

The results released include exams in English Language Arts (ELA)m, mathematics, science and social studies.

“These results show that COVID-19 has disrupted learning in every school district in Tennessee,” Lee said in a news release. “We’re grateful to the dedication of our educators and districts who worked to mitigate this loss over the past year, and we’re committed to implementing long-term strategies and investments to get our students back on track.”

During the January 2021 Special Legislative Session, the legislature removed negative consequences associated with accountability for districts and schools whose district-wide TCAP participation rate was 80% or higher. On Tuesday, July 27, the Department of Education released that 100% of districts met the 80% participation rate, with 80% of districts having met the federal 95% participation rate. More than 2 million TCAP testes were administered this year to around 750,000 students, providing families and school systems access to information that will help drive strategic decision-making for students.

“Since last school year, districts, schools, educators and families have worked tirelessly to adapt to this new reality, keep children on pace with academic expectations, and are ready to start the new school year strong. Now is the time for our state to come together to support our students,” Schwinn said in a news release. “While this is difficult data to review knowing that there are students behind each percent listed, we have the courage and conviction to meet this moment, to build on statewide momentum, and to accelerate student achievement. I am confident that our districts are equipped with the right tools to help our students meet grade-level expectations in the upcoming school year, and the department is committed to continue making strategic investments to increase outcomes for years to come. We know what is possible for education in our state, and Tennessee will continue to focus on what is best for all students.”

Click to view an overview of state-level results with comparisons by student group and grade level here and additional information here.

The state-level results of the 2020-21 spring TCAP assessments reflect expected declines as a result of disruptions due to COVID-19. Specifically, the state-level results from this past spring’s test administration found:

  • Overall: 
    • Tennessee data shows decreases in students scoring Mastered and On Track.   
    • Tennessee data shows increases in students scoring Below.  
    • The most negative impacts were noted for economically disadvantaged students, urban/suburban students, English Learners, and students of color. 
  • ELA: 
    • Overall English Language Arts proficiency dropped 5 points from 2019.  
    • 3 in 10 Tennessee students are meeting grade level expectations in ELA.  
      • 1 in 7 economically disadvantaged students is meeting grade level expectations in ELA.  
      • ELA proficiency rates dropped 4 - 6 points across racial and ethnic lines.   
    • 2nd & 3rd grades scores showed large increases to students scoring Below  
      • 68% of 2nd graders scored Below (half of 2nd grade students participated in this optional assessment) 
      • 47% of 3rd graders scored Below  
      • Students scoring at Below in 2nd and 3rd grades are typically those who are not able to read proficiently. 
  • Math: 
    • 1 in 4 Tennessee students is on grade level in math. 
      • 1 in 10 economically disadvantaged students is meeting grade level expectations.  
      • Black students were most impacted in math, with 67% scoring Below and 9% meeting grade level expectations.​ 
      • Hispanic and Asian students had 12 and 13 percentage point declines, respectively, from 2019.  
      • White students experienced ​an 11-percentage point ​ 
        decline overall from 2019. ​ 
    • Overall 3rd grade proficiency declined from 44% in 2019 to 31% in 2021, while 4th grade proficiency declined from 46% in 2019 to 34% in 2021. 
    • The greatest drops across subject areas were understanding and using mathematical notation to describe quantitative relationships and situations.  
  • Science: 
    • Proficiency rates dropped by a third in science, with only 38% of Tennessee students demonstrating proficiency.  
    •  Drops in science were larger in science than in any other subject area.  
  • Social Studies: 
    • This data saw fewer declines than other content areas and maintains performance from statewide increases that began in 2018, when standards were updated. ​ 
    • While proficiency dropped by 4 points in middle school, it increased 4 points in high school.  

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