Penny Schwinn

State releases preliminary data on learning loss amid pandemic

On Wednesday, Governor Bill Lee and Education Commissioner Penny Schwinn released estimated data regarding learning loss for Tennessee students resulting from COVID-19 school closures through the summer months. Preliminary data projects an estimated 50% decrease in proficiency rates in 3rd grade reading and a projected 65% decrease in proficiency in math.

“This data highlights the immense challenges that the COVID-19 pandemic has created for our students and educators,” said Gov. Lee. “The vast majority of students learn best in-person with their teacher, and we’ll continue to help provide a safe environment for Tennessee students to get their educational journeys back on track.”

While many students traditionally experience learning loss over the summer, projections show that learning loss from March school closures through the summer is expected to be 2.5 times that of a normal summer rate. Projections were developed in partnership with national researchers using historical, Tennessee-specific data to provide additional learning loss estimates based on the extended school closures.

“We know that increased time away from school has negative implications for students, which is compounded during extended building closures,” said Commissioner Schwinn. “The department is focused on ensuring we provide essential services and resources to mitigate learning loss and keep students on a path to success this new school year.”

The learning loss impacts early grades greater than later grades, placing these students further behind in the learning trajectory as they progress through school. Students with lower proficiency rates are also disproportionately impacted by learning loss, further exacerbating existing achievement gaps.

Research from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development on the economics of education shows that each additional year of schooling increases life income by an average of 7.5-10%. Further, a loss of one-third of a year in effective learning for just the students affected by the closures of early 2020 will, by historical data, lower a country’s GDP by an average of 1.5% over the remainder of the century.

About Jim Harris

Jim Harris has been WYSH's News & Sports Director since 2000. In addition to reporting local news, he is the play-by-play voice for Clinton High School football, boys' and girls' basketball and baseball. Catch Jim live weekdays beginning at 6:20 am for live local news, sports, weather and traffic plus the Community Bulletin Board, shenanigans with Ron Meredith and more on the Country Club Morning Show on WYSH & WQLA. Jim lives in Clinton with his wife Kelly and daughter Carolina, his mother-in-law and cats Lucius and Oliver.

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