High-dosage tutoring, high-quality instruction and summer school are fulling their promises of reversing pandemic learning loss, according to standardized testing results from one southern state. The scores should give confidence to administrators in other states that these widely used strategies have the potential to accelerate learning in their districts.
Students are reaching and exceeding pre-pandemic achievement levels in English language arts and math, based on Tennessee Comprehensive Assessment Program results from both fall 2021 and spring 2022. With 98% of students participating, ELA scores in the elementary grades improved to a level similar to the years before the pandemic. Overall, more students met or exceeded expectations in ELA than did in 2019.
Students at all levels made progress in math, with three in 10 meeting grade-level expectations. Educators have closed 35% to 55% of the learning loss gaps in math as national projections are indicating that students will recover more quickly in math than in English, the Tennessee Department of Education says.
Here are more key numbers from Tennessee:
English language arts:
- 6-point gain in proficiency in elementary school, reaching the highest proficiency level the state has seen in the last five years.
- 6-point gain in proficiency in middle school compared to 2021, matching pre-pandemic achievement.
- 7-point gain in proficiency in high school, also reflecting the highest proficiency the state has seen in the last five years.
- 36.4% of Tennessee students are meeting grade-level expectations in ELA.
- Elementary:¯4-point gain in proficiency, which reflects a 33% gap closure from the pandemic
- Middle:¯6-point gain in proficiency from 2021, a more than 50% gap closure
- High school:¯4-point gain in proficiency, a 50% gap closure
In other subjects, proficiency rates held steady in science and more students are meeting or exceeding expectations in social studies. The overall results comprise summative assessments for ELA, math, science, and social studies for grades 3-8 and high school end-of-course exams.
Mixed results in two big states
A few signs of recovery were also evident in the results of end-of-course high school exams in Texas. More students met grade-level expectations in Algebra I, biology and U.S. history, three STAAR tests that saw declines during COVID-19. Results remained consistent on English I and English II tests, on which scores did not drop during COVID.
Students who do not pass the STAAR tests are now eligible to receive 30 hours of targeted tutoring before, during or after school. They can also choose to be assigned to a classroom overseen by a master teacher. Texas will release grade 3-8 results later this month.
Results for younger students in another large state are less promising. In Florida, only about a quarter of third-graders scored proficient on the most recent statewide reading exams, the Florida Phoenix reported. Just more than half officially passed the test, a decline from 2021.