Tennessee data shows summer learning camps helped students improve in English, math

Published: Sep. 22, 2021 at 5:51 PM CDT
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Tennessee officials released what they described as “promising” data on efforts to address student learning loss caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The data from the Tennessee Department of Education shows students who participated in summer learning camp programs improved in a couple of different areas.

But state leaders acknowledged there are still areas of concern.

The summer programs were created to deal with learning loss caused by the pandemic. Students were tested before and after the summer programs.

Test results showed an overall six percent improvement in English and Language Arts and a 10 percent improvement in math.

About 120,000 students participated in the summer learning camps.

Tennessee Governor Bill Lee called the results encouraging.

“Tennessee has led the nation in getting students back in the classroom and swiftly addressing learning loss,” said Lee. “As we continue to prioritize our students, I’m encouraged to share positive outcomes of priorities established in our historic special session. I am hopeful for our state and thank the legislature for their partnership to turn the tide for Tennessee students.”

Education Commissioner Penny Schwinn told state lawmakers on Wednesday the summer camps are helping students get off to a stronger start this school year.

“When we look at the typical summer slide that we see in any other year, what we’re seeing as a result of the summer programs is that we’re not seeing that same slide,” said Schwinn. “As a result, what I would say is that our students that are participating are starting off better than they otherwise would have.”

But there are still plenty of areas of concern.

Data from the Tennessee Department of Education shows overall proficiency in reading dropped by five points from 2019. Only 3 in 10 students are meeting grade-level expectations in English.

Only one in four students is meeting grade-level expectations in math.

Despite performance increases, state officials said the achievement gap “has not significantly closed.”

Economically disadvantaged students continue to experience significant declines in proficiency.

“It continues to be very concerning,” Schwinn said. “I think we have a number of districts who will be doing high-dosage tutoring or providing additional intervention support during the school day. So, I think those are really smart investments to move and accelerate achievement.”

The state invested $160 million in the summer learning camps as part of a package of education policies the Tennessee General Assembly approved during a special session to address COVID-19 disruptions in education.

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