The COVID-19 pandemic brought forth a plethora of issues in America, but many of the worse ones were felt in the education sector. As schools across the nation shuttered their doors, children were said to have suffered great losses academically. There is no denying this sentiment, as the data is very telling about the significant learning loss from school closures. As more and more states report dire test scores, one state, however, seems to be making headway. Tennessee test scores are now available from end-of-the-year standardized test results and have surprisingly progressed since the onset of the pandemic.
Nashville5 News reported that the state’s department of education released Tennessee test scores for public school students recently, as many officials eagerly awaited to see just how bad the learning loss was felt in The Volunteer State. But unlike most others, the results showed improvement. English language arts (ELA) scores improved from the levels reported five years ago, and math, science, and social studies scores all increased from levels reported during the pandemic.
The state’s education commissioner, Penny Schwinn, spoke of her delight with these Tennesee test score findings in a statement. “Today, I am incredibly proud to be able to share Tennessee’s 2021-22 TCAP assessment results, which demonstrate the hard work of Tennessee’s districts, schools, educators, and families, the leadership of Governor Bill Lee and the Tennessee General Assembly — and the incredible impacts all of these efforts have had on improving academic outcomes for students,” she proudly said. Going on, Schwinn made sure to note that there is a long road to recovery ahead but still is proud of the hard work and dedication put forth by lawmakers, educators, families, and students leading to the increase in proficiency.
The notion is that much of the success of this year’s Tennessee test scores is due to efforts in legislation to combat learning loss. The state’s governor, Bill Lee, made remarks on this, crediting swift intervention. In January of 2021, government officials met during a special legislative session specifically focusing on education as a result of the effects of the pandemic. During this time, the state passed laws on school accountability, learning loss, literacy, and increased teacher pay to address the issues that were found.
Additionally last year, the government passed the Tennessee Learning Loss Remediation and Student Acceleration Act. Within, the state created summer camps to bridge the gap from learning loss for the state’s youngest, elementary students, who were said to have suffered the most during school closures. The initiative has proven successful, as is evident in this year’s overall Tennessee test scores.
Other states in the US did not fare as well. While Tennesse test scores showed improvements this year, the majority of others showed no progress, or worse, more apparent learning loss. Despite this, some education leaders and experts feel that these types of tests are redundant, and fail to show the whole picture of student gains. Said to be a practice of “teaching the test” some feel it only shows how well children’s memory is on certain subjects, not necessarily their level of understanding of a topic.
As one state now celebrates apparent headway in combating learning loss over the last few years, there is still a long road to recovery. Tennessee test scores may be up, but many states are now considering dropping these exams altogether or at least considering mitigating their importance. Whether or not public education will reformat this type of testing is uncertain, but still, it’s a hopeful point for many who have watched the state of education wane for years on end.