Academic strategies & investments moving needle for Tennessee students
NASHVILLE – Today, the Tennessee Department of Education released the 2021-22 Tennessee Comprehensive Assessment Program (TCAP) state-level results, which show how the state’s and districts’ shared commitment to mitigating learning loss and investing in student achievement is helping our students to recover and accelerate learning. These results include both spring 2022 and fall 2021 end-of-course exams in English Language Arts (ELA), mathematics, science and social studies.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, Tennessee maintained its commitment to an annual statewide assessment to provide reliable data on how students are performing, and this past school year reflects Tennessee schools moving forward with a statewide laser-focus on helping students catch-up from a pandemic and accelerate their learning. Overall, the statewide 2021-22 TCAP student participation rate was 98% with 59 districts having participation higher than 99%.
Results from the 2021-22 TCAP assessments show that elementary students significantly improved their ELA scores and are performing at a level similar to pre-pandemic years. Additionally, improved performance in math was evident for Tennessee students of all ages. Every student group showed an increase in proficiency as demonstrated on the 2022 TCAP assessments.
“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 Gov. Bill Lee and the Tennessee General Assembly—and the incredible impacts all of these efforts have had on improving academic outcomes for students,” said Commissioner Penny Schwinn. “Tennessee’s gains to meet or exceed pre-pandemic proficiency levels were hard-earned, and now is the time to ensure we continue the policies, practices and programs that are supporting academic achievement.”
Together, district and school leaders, educators and families have made tremendous efforts to support children, close gaps and accelerate learning. The 2021-22 TCAP results are the first look at the results of this monumental effort. An overview PowerPoint of the 2021-22 TCAP results is available here and key takeaways include:
English Language Arts (ELA):
- Notably, ELA proficiency has returned to pre-pandemic levels in almost all grades, with more students scoring Met and Exceeded than 2019, including:
- A 6-point gain in elementary school proficiency, which reflects the highest proficiency the state has seen in the last five years.
- A 6-point gain in middle school proficiency from 2021 and matches our pre-pandemic achievement.
- A 7-point gain in high school proficiency, which reflects the highest proficiency the state has seen in the last five years.
- 36.4% of Tennessee students are meeting grade level expectations in ELA.
- Proficiency gains were reflected in all tested grades in ELA.
- ELA-Related State Supports & Initiatives: Reading 360; Tennessee Literacy Success Act; TN ALL Corps; universal implementation of high-quality instructional materials; summer camps; Best for All Central resources.
- 3 in 10 Tennessee students are meeting grade level expectations in math.
- Based on national projections, math recovery is expected to recover faster than ELA.
- Growth in math matched or exceeded gains seen in previous years and is outpacing math projections for pandemic recovery. Between 35-55% of learning loss gaps are closed in math.
- Math-Related State Supports & Initiatives: TN ALL Corps; summer camps; Best for All Central resources; free online tutoring resources available for all students.
- School Level Spotlight:
- Elementary: A 4-point gain in proficiency, which reflects a 33% gap closure from the pandemic.
- Middle: A 6-point gain in proficiency from 2021, which reflects a more than 50% gap closure from the pandemic.
- High School: A 4-point gain in proficiency, which reflects a 50% gap closure from the pandemic.
- Overall, proficiency rates held steady for science, with an increase of 2 percentage points.
- All grade levels experienced an increase in students scoring Exceeded Expectations.
- Science-Related State Supports & Initiatives: Ongoing partnership with TSIN to expand STEM designated schools from 15 in 2018 to 88 in 2022; extended programming on PBS and Best for All Central resources; expanded STREAM programming in Tennessee summer camps.
- Overall social studies proficiency has continued to increase since 2017.
- Fewer students scored Below and Approaching, while more students scored Met and Exceeded Expectations.
- Social Studies-Related State Supports & Initiatives: Expanded resources on Best for All Central; strengthened the Governor’s Civic Seal program; strong statewide implementation of knowledge-building materials in English Language Arts (ELA).
“Thanks to the proactive leadership of Governor Lee and the Tennessee General Assembly the learning loss precipitated by the COVID pandemic has been halted. It is clear children learn best in the classroom and that the lack of in-person learning during COVID affected Tennessee’s historic progress in education,” said Lt. Gov. Randy McNally. “Now that the COVID disruption is behind us, we must focus on recapturing the gains that made Tennessee one of the most improved states in the nation prior to the emergence of the pandemic. There is still much work left to do but I am grateful to all that made this recovery possible on behalf of Tennessee’s students.”
“We greatly appreciate our educators for their steadfast dedication, determination and diligent work in addressing Covid-19 learning loss and changing the academic trajectories of our students,” said Speaker Cameron Sexton. “The resources and programs initiated by Gov. Lee, and supported by the Department of Education, and the General Assembly have closed gaps in statewide reading proficiency rates. As we maintain our focus on literacy and reading, I strongly believe we need to look at adding more resources for math to the summer bridge camps. This will aid our students by deepening their knowledge and aptitude of STEM programming.”
“It is very encouraging to see our TCAP scores recover to pre-pandemic levels. The credit for this incredible accomplishment goes to our teachers, students and parents who rose to the challenge and have worked double time to keep our students on track after unprecedented disruptions caused by COVID-19,” said Senate Majority Leader Jack Johnson. “In the General Assembly, we were pleased to work with Governor Lee and the Department of Education to provide rigorous opportunities for students to catch up and accelerate learning. There will always be room for improvement, but these scores mark a solid foundation for a strong education system that will continue to make gains in the coming years.”
“The results we are seeing in Tennessee are a testament to the buy in and efforts we have had from teachers, administrators and students from across the state. It’s evidence of the educational performance that is possible as we continue to put a focus on providing our students with the resources and opportunities to thrive in their present-day classrooms as well as in their future careers,” said House Education Administration K-12 Subcommittee Chairman Kirk Haston.
In January 2021, Tennessee Gov. Lee and the Tennessee General Assembly convened a special legislative session on education, which addressed urgent issues facing Tennessee students and schools as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Specifically, the special legislative session passed legislation on accountability, learning loss, literacy and teacher pay. The Tennessee Learning Loss Remediation and Student Acceleration Act established summer learning loss bridge camps for elementary students to help them recover learning loss and accelerate their achievement. Additionally, the Tennessee Literacy Success Act was passed and laid a policy foundation for literacy in state to focus on improving literacy opportunities and ensure every student builds strong reading skills grounded in phonics.
In alignment with the Best for All strategic plan, the department recognized the impending impact the global pandemic would have on K-12 education in Tennessee and proactively and strategically committed investments to prioritize meeting the needs of all Tennessee students through the state’s ARP ESSER plan, which lays out the state’s spending strategy for its portion of federal COVID-19 relief and stimulus funding to benefit K-12 education in Tennessee.
TCAP results reflect summative assessments for English language arts, math, science and social studies for grades 3-8, high school end-of-course (EOC) exams in English I and II, Algebra I and II, Geometry, Integrated Math I, II and III; Biology and U.S. History.
To learn more about the state’s assessment program, visit the department’s State Assessment webpage.
For Tennessee Department of Education media inquiries, contact Edu.MediaInquiries@tn.gov.