09 Aug Five states that are “doing it” on testing and recovery
By Dale Chu
Tracking the dismaying trend in states like Texas and Indiana, test results in Florida, Tennessee, and now Louisiana have also shown dramatic dips in student performance—with bigger drops in math than in reading. In Florida, 52 percent of students are on grade level in ELA and 51 percent in math. In Tennessee, only 29 percent of students are on level in ELA, and 25 percent meet that bar in math. Louisiana’s figures are 40 percent and 27 percent respectively. Granted, these results come from different exams, but the through-line is abundantly clear: Covid has taken a heavy toll on student learning nationwide.
The disappointing numbers were nothing if not expected. To wit, Tennessee education commissioner Penny Schwinn noted, “Last fall, we talked about expected declines in proficiency and so seeing these declines is not surprising.” The bad news is still difficult to swallow, but state leaders deserve credit for insisting upon high levels of student participation even amid the pandemic.
Consider the participation rates in each of these five states: Texas (87%), Indiana (97%), Florida (93%), Tennessee (95%), and Louisiana (97.5%). These numbers speak to the importance of state and local leadership throughout the crisis. In Tennessee’s case, a whopping eighty percent of districts met the federal 95 percent participation threshold. Not only do these stats bolster arguments that this data is reliable—and thus worth leveraging for the process of education recovery—they also exceed many of the dire predictions that were made earlier in the school year.
Perhaps an appropriate response to the assessment naysayers is this quote often used by former NYC Chancellor Joel Klein: “People who say it cannot be done should not interrupt those who are doing it.” In this same vein, Texas, Indiana, Florida, Tennessee, and Louisiana have been “doing it,” and their states’ students and families will be all the better off for it.