Penny’s Perspective

Commissioner of Education Penny Schwinn is finally bringing some perspective to the claim that Tennessee is the “fastest-improving state in the nation on NAEP.” This comes after the release of the 2019 NAEP results, which showed that Tennessee remained statistically flat in terms of overall achievement. The results add further evidence to the claim that the 2013 “fastest-improving” numbers were an outlier.

Here’s some of what Schwinn had to say about the results, according to a report in Chalkbeat:

“If I’m a parent, I’m not necessarily thinking that flat is positive,” she said. “I’m thinking that flat is flat.”

“If we’re looking at proficiency by student group over time, the large increase in 2013 was largely from our white and non-low income students,” she said, calling for more support for economically disadvantaged students, English language learners, and students with disabilities.

“When we look at our suburban and urban students, we know that those students accounted for much of the 2013 growth, but our rural [scores] have remained relatively unchanged,” she said.

Schwinn noted that Tennessee continues to perform lower than peer states.

The bottom line: Tennessee is “gaining” because other states are losing ground. More specifically, as Schwinn notes, our rural and low-income students still lag behind. In other words, it’s very important to pay attention to poverty — and to enact policy that lifts up communities.

American cent

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