Friday, September 10, 2021

Tennessee Department of Education Commissioner Penny Schwinn was featured by the New York Times

by Rod Williams - Tennessee Department of Education Commissioner Penny Schwinn was featured by

Penny Schwinn
the New York Times in a lengthy feature titled, "How Will America Recover from a Broken School Year?" She is one of six experts who discuss the consequences of missed learning. Below are some excerpts from this article.
How Have Kids Fared? ...
Penny Schwinn: It’s really difficult. It’s also no one’s fault. Educators did herculean things through the year, and still students’ scores went down and achievement went down. In our state, among all our economically disadvantaged students, third through eighth grade, one in seven is on grade level in language arts and one in 10 is on grade level in math. Among the biggest drops we saw occurred in districts that also had the longest periods of remote instruction in the last school year. This has no doubt exacerbated achievement gaps that have existed in our state for years. For example, I’ve got only 3 percent of low-income students in Memphis who can do math on grade level in eighth grade. ...

Should Schools Test Kids Academically? ...
Schwinn: In Tennessee, the Legislature came back and did a special session to ensure that student testing would take place. The bill promised no negative consequences for any district, school or teacher as long as 80 percent of students took the assessment. We knew how important it was to have the cold, hard facts, and we knew that families really wanted to know how their kids were doing academically after a pandemic school year. Now that student scores are available, we’ve had more parents logging into our online family portal than we expected — all to find out how their child’s scores compare to their previous scores. 

Unless we have this good data that shows how our students are doing, we can’t make informed decisions to ensure those students receive the additional support they need. And candidly, the business community is very important here. When they see the testing data, and they understand what it indicates for their future work force, they’ve pushed on the academic front and for the support that enable academic success — in opinion columns and conversations with legislators, for example.
Read the full article at this link.  The above highlighting is mine. 

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