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Knox Co. TCAP scores show widespread COVID learning loss

Knox County Schools had a participation rate of 94.1 percent and data showed a decline in proficiency in each grade level and subject area aside from U.S. history, compared to spring 2019.
Published: Aug. 11, 2021 at 5:37 PM EDT|Updated: Aug. 11, 2021 at 6:26 PM EDT
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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - Knox County Schools saw widespread learning loss during the 2020-21 school year due to disruptions caused by COVID-19, according to TCAP scores that were released today.

Knox County Schools had a participation rate of 94.1 percent and data showed a decline in proficiency in each grade level and subject area aside from U.S. history, compared to spring 2019.

The district did outperform the state in combined proficiency rate with 36.4 percent of KCS students tested proficient across all grades and subjects. While KCS test-takers outperformed state levels, the district saw a 3 percent decrease compared to data from 2019.

“Despite the hard work of our teachers, administrators, and staff last year, the pandemic created enormous challenges that impacted students’ academic progress, and we must do everything we can to help them catch up,” said Superintendent Bob Thomas. “I cannot emphasize how important it will be this year to have our students in class and getting the instruction and supports they need from our dedicated teachers and staff.”

KCS school officials released the following data:

In 2021, for elementary school (grades 3-5) TCAP exams:

  • 34.9% of students scored “On Track” or “Mastered” in ELA, down from 38.8% in 2019
  • 35.5% of students scored “On Track” or “Mastered” in math, down from 45.6% in 2019
  • 46.3% of students scored “On Track” or “Mastered” in science*

For middle school (grades 6-8) TCAP exams:

  • 29.8% of students scored “On Track” or “Mastered” in English, down from 38.5% in 2019
  • 26.1% of students scored “On Track” or “Mastered” in math, down from 35.5% in 2019
  • 40.9% of students scored “On Track” or “Mastered” in science*

For high school end-of-course exams:

  • 37.5% of students scored “On Track” or “Mastered” in English, down from 44.2% in 2019
  • 24.4% of students scored “On Track” or “Mastered” in math, down from 31.7% in 2019
  • 50.1% of students scored “On Track” or “Mastered” in science*
  • 38.8% of students scored “On Track” or “Mastered” in U.S. history, up from 36% in 2019

“The pandemic’s effect on student progress was devastating, but we are committed to doing everything we can to close the gaps in academic performance and to accelerate learning,” said Assistant Superintendent and Chief Academic Officer Dr. Jon Rysewyk. “We must get our students back on track and moving forward.”

A Knox County Schools mom said she noticed her then 7th and 11th grade students more stressed than usual during state testing in May.

“Putting the stress under the teachers. Putting the stress under each and every student that’s got to stop,” said Tammy Crowe.

Crowe’s realized she just wants her students to try their best no matter the outcome.

Crowe explained, “I don’t think I as a parent, and I am a very involved parent, am not going to be taking it as seriously as I ever have in the past.”

Knox County students may access their TCAP score reports via the Tennessee Department of Education’s TCAP Family Portal.

“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.”

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