Governor says he plans to address 3rd grade reading and math issues within weeks


NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — Following the release of what has been considered “unprecedented” data, Governor Bill Lee said he will address reading and writing deficiencies for Tennessee 3rd graders.

Both he and State Education Commissioner Penny Schwinn say it’s an urgent situation that preliminary data from her department projects an estimated 50% decrease in proficiency rates in 3rd-grade reading and a projected 65% decrease in math proficiency.

“Now we have some data to substantiate what we expected,” said Governor Lee Wednesday. “We will not wait until January to begin…to develop a plan to address it. Absolutely not.”

Lee added he’ll address the dramatically dropping proficiencies for 3rd graders within weeks, but Education Commissioner Schwinn says there is no quick fix and “there must be realistic expectations” for dealing with the issue.

“What we are looking at is unprecedented and I think the drops that we are seeing and the learning loss as a result of school building closures is going to take more than a school year,” added Schwinn at the governor’s briefing.

Both she and the governor said the pandemic put kids in this situation and it’s all the more reason to get kids back in classroom with teachers, instead of online while at home with parents.

“It is really hard to teach a child to read through a computer,” said the commissioner.

One area of help she added includes $40 million dollars in grants from the federal Department of Education to help with reading.

The education department says these learning loss estimates come from two sets of data. They include surveys conducted in June of 30,000 students, provided by school districts from across the state.  

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