Tennessee Math Scores Continue Climb But Reading Flatlines

Social studies isn't even put on the chart because most students ace that part of the test. Credit: Blake Farmer / WPLN

Social studies isn’t even put on the chart because most students ace that part of the test. Credit: Blake Farmer / WPLN

Tennessee standardized test scores are headed steadily upward, although math gains are now outpacing reading. TCAP test results were released Thursday. At least half of Tennessee students in grades 3 – 8 are now considered proficient or better in the three main subject areas of math, science and reading. That’s a big jump for math, while barely moving the needle in reading.

There’s been a statewide emphasis on math and science instruction. Yet Education Commissioner Kevin Huffman rejects that gains in one subject come at the expense of another.

“I don’t think people have forgotten about reading,” he says. “I think reading can sometimes be a little more technical when it comes to instructing people really well.”

To compensate, Huffman says the state is beefing up language arts training for middle school teachers this summer.

High school students performed well in math as well. After requiring everyone to take Algebra II, scores improved by nearly nine percent. The only subject that backtracked was English II.

The continued growth won’t last. Tennessee’s public schools have just one more year with the test known as the TCAP. Then students begin taking the PARCC test, which is related to new national Common Core standards.

“As we transition into this next round of tests that we’re going to start, we’ll kind of see a dip,” Tennessee Board of Education executive director Gary Nixon says. “I expect to see a dip.”

Test scores also took a nosedive three years ago when education officials made the TCAP assessment more challenging.

District and school-level test scores won’t be published until next month.

Please keep your community civil. Comments will be moderated prior to posting, and Nashville Public Radio reserves the right to approve them at its discretion. Comments containing links promoting goods, services - even noble organizations - will not be published. Your comments may include external links, but all comments with links will be delayed as they are reviewed. Comments containing profanity will be rejected.