We Need to Know the Impact of School Closures in Tennessee on Student Learning
You can’t fix what you can’t see. It wasn’t that long ago that our systemic failures to serve students from low-income backgrounds, students of color, English learners, and students with disabilities — who had long gone underserved in Tennessee’s schools — were invisible, hidden behind averages. We are now able to see and begin to address chronic gaps on a range of metrics, but only because of transparent and accessible reporting.
We will need information that comes from assessments to make a host of important decisions – on instruction, resource allocation, and school improvement. Tennessee’s assessments, which are aligned to grade-level expectations, are critical not only to helping families and educators understand how well students are learning, and now most critically, if they have fallen behind. We also know that policymakers and education leaders need that information to identify and learn from the places where we are seeing promising results for all students.
The Data Quality Campaign just released a survey showing that 77% of families believe that testing should resume in 2021. Also of note, Learning Heroes also recently released parent survey results and found that “…even with more hands-on time, parents still have an inflated view of their children’s grade level ability – 92% report their children are at/above grade level in reading and math. It is closer to 37% (2019 NAEP).”
We believe it is premature to call for a cancellation of testing for next spring and encourage policymakers and education leaders to stay the course while providing support to districts as we move into the coming school year.