Tennessee projects big math, reading drops due to COVID-19

September 23, 2020 GMT

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Tennessee education officials on Wednesday predicted a big hit to student learning due to interruptions from the COVID-19 pandemic.

The state Department of Education projected a 50% decrease in reading proficiency rates and a 65% drop in math among third graders.

The estimates come as Republican Gov. Bill Lee and his administration continue to urge districts to hold in-person classes during the ongoing pandemic.

“What we’re looking at is unprecedented,” Education Commissioner Penny Schwinn said at a news conference Wednesday. “And I think that the drops that we are seeing in terms of learning loss as a result of school building closures is going to take more than a school year. So I want us to have realistic expectations for the hard work that’s happening with our superintendents, teachers, principals and more.”


Schwinn said the projections are based off a study done in June by her department and partnering organizations, district-level data and beginning-of-the-year assessments completed by more than 30,000 students to date.

Schwinn said the third grade literacy rate is usually 33%, but it’s projected to now be 12% to 14%. Fourth grade math proficiency usually is 33% to 35%, and it’s now estimated to be 17%.