Tennessee Education Commissioner Penny Schwinn

Tennessee Education Commissioner Penny Schwinn announces projected COVID-19-related learning loss Wednesday, Sept. 23, 2020, at the state Capitol.

(The Center Square) – Results of back-to-school student checkpoint tests from 38 school districts across the state are consistent with learning loss projections released by the Tennessee Department of Education, the department confirmed.

Tennessee third-graders are expected to experience learning loss of 50 percent in reading proficiency and 65 percent in math proficiency because school closures caused by the response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the department announced last week.

Results of more than 30,000 back-to-school assessment tests conducted in recent weeks confirmed the department’s projections of learning loss, department spokesperson Victoria Robinson said.

Data from 38 school districts in Tennessee served as a “gut check” on the department’s projections. The 38 districts almost all are in rural areas in the state, and Tennessee’s 18 largest school districts did not submit data for the learning loss projections.

To calculate the projections, analysts at the department compared data from two national studies: an April study conducted by the Northwest Evaluation Association, using nationwide student data from the 2017-2018 school year, and a Tennessee-focused CREDO study, which used Tennessee student testing data from 2014 to 2019.

Tennessee student data from 30,000 student checkpoint assessments to begin the 2020-2021 school year then was used to “gut check” the projections. Beginning-of-year testing is ongoing, and the department now has data from about 40,000 checkpoint tests.

The list of districts that voluntarily provided student data to the department include: Alcoa; Alvin C York Institute; Anderson County; Athens; Bradford; Bradley County; Cannon County; Clay County; Clinton; Coffee County; Cumberland County; Decatur County; Dickson County; Dyer County; Elizabethton; Fayette County Public Schools; Greene County; Henderson County; Hickman Count; Houston County; Humphreys County; Jackson County; Lake County; Lenoir City; Macon County; Manchester; Marion County; Marshall County; Maryville; McMinn County; Meigs County; Newport; Obion County; Overton County; Perry County; Pickett County; Sweetwater; White County.

Staff Reporter

Vivian Jones reports on Tennessee and South Carolina for The Center Square. Her writing has appeared in the Detroit News, The Hill, and publications of The Heartland Institute.