Overall Tennessee reading proficiency rose this year, bringing literacy levels back on par with pre-pandemic findings.
America was once considered a top leader in educational standards and achievements. But over time, the nation’s global standing has continued to drop in rankings. Even before the pandemic, youth were perpetually falling behind in literacy levels. These issues were greatly exacerbated by learning disruptions and school closures during the COVID pandemic, and much of the focus this year was on how much ground needed to be covered in order to catch students up on reading. In promising news, Tennessee reading proficiency rose this past year, making the southern state yet another that is showing headway in closing the gap on learning loss felt throughout the last few years.
The 74 Million reported that the Volunteer State made progress in reading levels from where they stood the previous year. Tennessee reading proficiency rose in English language arts standards from 29% during to 2020-2021 school year, up over six percent to 36.4% this past year. Education officials lauded the data, signifying that multiple efforts helped raise the number of children in the state who are now reading at a proficient or higher level. While having just a little over a quarter of students reading at standard levels is not necessarily viewed as a success, it’s promising for the plethora of new initiatives the state has enacted to make up lost learning time.
Furthering proof that Tennessee reading proficiency is making headway, 77% of school districts shared data in the new report that depicted how students are now exceeding their pre-pandemic levels. Some of the most successful saw double-digit raises. Even just looking at data depicting how many students were able to pass the state’s elementary reading test showed hope. In 2019, 36% of students passed, but in 2021 when the test was next administered, that number fell to only 32%. This year, however, even more children passed than a few years ago, as 38% received a passing grade at the elementary level.
Like states all across America, Tennessee enacted a plethora of new measures via state budget increases, COVID relief funds, and various grants to bolster academics, with a major focus on Tennessee reading proficiency in mind. One such initiative that used relief money to boost academics was done so via tutoring. A new program placed more literacy coaches in schools made available through a Tennessee tutoring corps. Likewise, teachers were further required to attend training that focused on phonics-building skills and showed them how to assess students’ reading abilities on a more frequent basis, to prepare them for Tennesee reading proficiency tests.
While there is no longer any denying the signs that school closures and disruptions negatively affected the outcome of academic achievements for nearly all students in public schools, it is promising to see how the various endeavors now put in place are slowly but surely reversing the decline. The nation overall is still far behind where it needs to be in education, but seeing states like Tennessee rebound in reading proficiency is a hopeful sign for educators struggling to make up for learning loss. Hopefully, these initiatives continue to show headway and bring students even farther ahead of where they were before the pandemic disrupted life.