TN Education Commissioner: 50% drop in 3rd grade reading proficiency; 65% in math

Back to School 2020
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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — Tennessee Education Commissioner Dr. Penny Schwinn delivered findings on student learning loss during the pandemic at the governor’s news conference Wednesday.

Dr. Schwinn said schools are used to seeing learning losses following summer break, but when combined with the additional three-month shutdown, student learning loss has become a major problem.

“Because of some of these closures and because of the impacts of COVID-19, we are seeing a significant decrease in the proficiency of students entering school this fall,” Dr. Schwinn said. “Specifically, we are estimating a 50% decrease in proficiency in 3rd grade reading and we are projecting a 65% decrease in proficiency in 3rd grade mathematics.”

State education leaders are now working together to come up with a solution to getting students back on track. Learning losses have had the greatest impact on younger students. These learning losses have also brought down student performance statewide.

“We know that in 3rd grade, we typically have a 33% literacy rate. We are probably going to look at somewhere between 12 and 14% literacy statewide. We know that in mathematics, we typically have a 33 to 35% proficiency rate in 4th grade, we are currently looking at 17% due to some of the losses as a result of the COVID slide.”

Tennessee Higher Education Commission director Mike Krause also discussed additional financial assistance available to encourage college enrollment amid the pandemic.

Emergency financial aid has been made available for college students. The state is also waiving the eight hours of community service required to apply for Tennessee Promise scholarships. Applications are due November 1. The state is also offering deferred payments and frozen interest on student loans.

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