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Pandemic takes toll on state's academic results
school bus

The academic decline expected due to the pandemic has turned out to be a reality.

According to standardized test results released Monday by the state, Tennessee students are less proficient than they were before the pandemic and the most pronounced declines came from students who learned remotely.

In terms of overall achievement, 31% of all Tennessee students are learning at, or above, grade level. That number is down from 39% four years ago.

When analyzing scores from the most recent school year, 45% of elementary students who were taking in-person classes were learning at grade level. That number plummeted to 22% for elementary students in remote learning.

Scores were generated from Tennessee Comprehensive Assessment Program tests administered in the spring of 2021. Scores have only been released as statewide figures. District-by-district scores have not been revealed.

Scores were released Monday by Gov. Bill Lee and the state Department of Education.

“We don’t know anything locally as of yet. However, I don’t think lower scores will surprise anyone,” said Warren County Director of Schools Grant Swallows. “As the governor said, think about where we would be if we hadn’t done the tremendous work we did last year. Test scores are just information for us to use to help guide our instructional strategies for the future. I’m looking forward to getting our local scores and beginning our work of getting better for the 2021-22 school year.”

As expected by educators, the results were particularly poor in math, which saw sharp declines. Only 25% of Tennessee students are meeting grade-level expectations in math.

More than 2 million TCAP tests were administered this year to approximately 750,000 students, providing families and school systems access to information that will help drive strategic decision-making for students, the state said.

“These results show that COVID-19 has disrupted learning in every school district in Tennessee,” said Gov. Lee. “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.”

High school students who learned remotely had the worst proficiency rate of any group. Only 21% of those students were learning at grade level. In addition, 43% of high school students who learned remotely were deemed to be well below grade level.