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Pandemic Disruptions Impacted Students; Data to Drive Strategies to Boost Student Achievement

NASHVILLE, TN & WOODBURY, TN — The Tennessee Department of Education recently released the 2020-21 Spring Tennessee Comprehensive Assessment Program (TCAP) district-level results. The results highlight the importance of addressing the needs of students and moving forward with a sense of urgency and optimism about what our students can and will accomplish this school year. 

State- and district-level results from the 2020-21 Spring TCAP assessments show that pandemic-related disruptions to education led to expected declines in academic proficiency across the state. However, proficiency declines were mitigated as a direct result of the hard work of our districts, schools, and educators and some districts even saw improvements in their proficiency rates in some tested subjects/grades.  

Tennessee’s school districts are the best sources of information for characterization of local results and know their communities best. While declines were expected due to the pandemic, this is an opportunity for our school communities to share their data and rally together to advance programs, initiatives and supports that will benefit student achievement. 

“Since the start of the pandemic, Tennessee’s districts, schools, educators, and families have worked incredibly hard to ensure students continue learning, and now a brand-new school year has just begun,” said Commissioner Penny Schwinn. “While we expected declines in student proficiency, the data from our statewide assessment creates an opportunity to make more informed, strategic decisions and investments that are best for accelerating the achievement of our students. Tennessee is well prepared for the work that lies ahead, and we will continue to put our kids first.”  

Access an overview presentation about the district-level results here (opens in a new window) and a downloadable spreadsheet of district proficiency rates across student groups here (opens in a new window)

To ensure districts are able to best support their students, district-level results are essential to providing a snapshot into each of our school communities to highlight needed supports and investments to continue driving student acceleration and achievement. 

In the overview presentation, the department highlighted district proficiency rates in early grades, specifically 3rd grade English Language Arts (ELA) and 7th grade math, because we recognize the importance of ensuring students are learning on grade level for these foundational years. Specifically, meeting expectations in 3rd grade ELA is a key indicator of future academic success; and 7th grade math is foundational to Algebra and mathematical reasoning.  

This release only includes high school TCAP participation data from Spring 2021 and not Fall 2020, so it is more appropriate for local districts to highlight high school information. Further, statewide high school participation rates were lower than those of elementary and middle schools, making longitudinal comparisons more difficult. 

The spotlight slides in the overview for each district contain information on the district’s overall participation rate for the 2020-21 TCAP test administration; proficiency percentages from the test administration for all eligible Tennessee students, all students in the respective district, and all student groups;  the district’s primary operating model for the reported grade level for the 2020-21 school year; and proficiency data to illustrate both how the district performed in the subject and grade versus how the state performed over time, as well as how various student groups in a district performed, over time. Student group proficiency data is suppressed for a count of ten or fewer students.  

It is important to note that these assessment data are different from school and district accountability and designations. This release provides assessment data for students across the state and by district. Tennessee’s accountability model has additional rules to attribute academic achievement and growth to each school and district, which may not include every student, and is determined after a district appeals process. Assessment is about measuring and reporting on the performance of students; accountability, which includes more data points, is about reporting on the performance of systems. 

During the January 2021 Special Legislative Session, Public Chapter 2 (opens in a new window) removed negative consequences associated with accountability for districts and schools whose district-wide TCAP participation rate was 80% or higher. On Tuesday, July 27, the department shared (opens in a new window) that 100% of districts met the 80% participation rate, with 80% of districts having met the federal 95% participation rate. More than two million TCAP tests were administered this year to approximately 750,000 students, providing families and schools systems access to information that will help drive strategic decision-making for students. 

To help Tennessee families and students understand their TCAP results, the department’s free, online resource, TCAP Family Portal (opens in a new window), created in direct response to parent and stakeholder feedback, is available and provides access to test results from this year. The portal also includes test history features allowing families to track progress over time, TCAP scale scores and performance levels by subject, parent guides and resources, and individualized recommendations for improvements. Families can access this resource by registering atfamilyreport.tnedu.gov (opens in a new window).   

To support districts and schools experiencing various learning disruptions, the department offered multiple flexibilities and supports to districts so they could make the best assessment plans to fit their needs. These flexibilities included the expanded use of off-site testing locations, flexibility for local testing schedules, and guidance on medical exemptions for COVID-impact students. 

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 has proactively and strategically committed investments to prioritize meeting the needs of all Tennessee students through the state’s ARP ESSER plan (opens in a new window), 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. Specifically, the state plan highlights  combatting existing gaps in student achievement and opportunity, addressing the needs of rural communities, improving early literacy (opens in a new window)investing in a statewide tutoring corps (opens in a new window), and accelerating student academic achievement across the state. 

District leaders commented on the importance of annual assessments and how Tennesseans need to come together to support our students. 

Cannon County Schools has worked extremely hard to aid our students and ensure they are prepared for this new school year. I am proud that we achieved a 97.4% participation rate for the TCAP assessments this past school year, and saw tremendous gains in Student Growth in the 2020-2021 School Year,” said Mr. William Freddy Curtis, Director of Schools, Cannon County Schools. “With most  ALL of our students having tested, we know how essential these results are in regard to our students’ growth, academic achievement and success rate.  These results assist our personnel to provide a valuable snapshot of where our students need support. We are prepared and already making investments to put our students first as we have started this new year. I am very very proud to announce the following results:

Participation Rate:

District           97.4%

State              94.4%

The TCAP Participation Rate shows the percent of students recorded as attending each expected TCAP assessment administration.  Participation rates help show how well a school or district did in measuring each student’s learning. The participation rates across student groups can help with interpreting the Achievement and Growth data from the 2020-2021 school year.

Growth

Cannon County District = Level 5 out of 5 levels.

Overall growth shows the amount of growth achieved by students. Based on the growth achieved by their students, a school is assigned a level between Level 1 and Level 5, with Level 5 being the highest.These level indicators give us a better understanding of how much growth students are achieving in a particular school or district. This allows us to see whether or not students’ achievement is increasing or decreasing over time relative to other students in Tennessee.

Subjects

Cannon County School District

English Language Arts Growth = Level 4 out of 5 levels.

English Language Arts (ELA) growth shows the amount of growth achieved by students in English Language Arts. This indicator considers student performance on state assessments for: Grades 3-8 ELA, English I, and English II. It is important to look at ELA growth to understand how schools or districts are best meeting the needs of their students when it comes to English Language Arts.

Math Growth = Level 5 out of 5 levels

Mathematics growth shows the amount of growth achieved by students in mathematics. This indicator considers student performance on state assessments for: Grades 3-8 Math, Algebra I, Geometry, Algebra II, Integrated Math I, Integrated Math II, and Integrated Math III. It is important to look at Math growth to understand how schools or districts are best meeting the needs of their students when it comes to Mathematics.”

Director Curtis continued, “We are sincerely appreciative of the hard work of Cannon County Educators during the eventful 2020-2021 School Year. We have demonstrated significant progress in growing our students!  We have great reasons to celebrate this historic growth of our students!  In celebrating our success, we have major concerns regarding Learning Loss, as our Academic Achievement and Success Rate is Cannon County School District = 18.8% and the State Average is        

27.8%. The one-year success rate represents the percentage of students that scored on track or mastered on annual state tests. This information tells us how many students are succeeding on state exams, and can paint a picture of how well schools and districts are preparing students for these exams. More information from the Tennessee Department of Education is forthcoming with the release of individual School Accountability information and the Release of the State and District Report Card in the near future. The Tennessee Department of Education plans to issue a press release on September 23rd, 2021 to share updated accountability metrics that will be live on the State Report Card, and to feature TVAAS growth highlights from the past year.”  

District- and state- level spring 2020-21 TCAP assessment data files are accessible to download on the department’s Data Downloads webpage (opens in a new window)

For Tennessee Department of Education media inquiries, email edu.mediainquiries@tn.gov (opens in a new window).  

For media inquiries, please contact Mr. William F. Curtis, Director of Cannon County Schools at 629-201-4801 Extension 10101 or at williamf.curtis@ccstn.net (opens in a new window) for local Cannon County Schools information.

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