TN Education Commissioners explains data behind recent COVID-19 learning loss predication

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Tennessee’s Education Commissioner is clarifying the state’s COVID-19 learning loss predictions.

Commissioner Penny Schwinn said the state evaluated two sets of information: existing data from some school district.

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During his weekly briefing, Governor Bill Lee said the state’s new predictions about COVID-19 learning loss are clear.

“It validates the powerful role of a teacher in the classroom,” said Governor Lee.

Last week, Commissioner Schwinn said recent data showed a 50 percent drop in third-grade reading rates and a 65 percent decrease in math.

The department of education said the Center for Research on Education Outcomes or CREDO from Stanford University completed a state study using previous testing data and performance information.

They also used data from another national study estimating the effects of time out of school for learning loss.

RELATED: TN releases data showing learning loss among students due to COVID-19 pandemic

“Because we know this is an unprecedented time, we’ve never experienced a pandemic and we certainly know a lot about learning loss during the summer months but this is three additional months for many students and the multiplier effect of that is real,” said Commissioner Schwinn.

After reviewing these national trends, the department said they performed a gut check. Schwinn says they reviewed existing data from 30,000 students to make projections of learning loss in Tennessee from prolonged school closures.

“We also know that in-person learning is the most effective way we have to educate children and I think this certainly provides more emphasis on the urgency that you are hearing from me that our students get as much opportunity as possible to achieve as much as possible this year and I do believe that happens in the seat for that child which is in classrooms,” said Schwinn.

A spokesperson for Shelby County Schools said the district started its own diagnostics and assessments last week to determine how much knowledge students retained since last school year.

They expect those results in October.