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Tennessee Students Show Modest Math Gains on Nation’s 2019 Report Card


Tennessee Department of EducationNashville, TN – The Nation’s 2019 Report Card was released this morning.  According to the results, Tennessee students made noteworthy gains in 4th grade math, but saw virtually no statistical gains in the other subject areas that were tested, compared to 2017. 

Percent of Tennessee Students Proficient on NAEP

Every two years, the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) is administered to students in grades 4 and 8 to measure grade level proficiency in science and math.

The goal is to help states evaluate student progress and see how these students proficiency in these subjects compared to their peers. The statewide results for this year closely mirror the trends experienced nationally in 2019.

Tennessee Department of Education commissioner Penny Schwinn says, “I’m extremely proud of our students and educators for regaining some of the ground that was lost between 2015 and 2017 in terms of 4th grade math scores.”

“That said, Tennessee students deserve better, and I think we can deliver that. This state made tremendous academic gains in math and reading between 2011 and 2013, but since then proficiency has essentially remained stagnant. Now is the time to accelerate once again,” stated Schwinn.

The accompanying graph shows student proficiency in Tennessee on NAEP over the past decade. This year, the proficiency rates ranged between 32 percent and 40 percent for 2019, depending on the subject.

The 2019 results also revealed widening achievement gaps between white students and students who are disabled, of a different race, are eligible for free and reduced lunch, or are English Learners.

Tennessee’s scores on the NAEP align closely with last year’s TNReady scores, which showed a similar percentage of students proficient in each grade and subject.

This is a stark improvement over 2007, when the U.S. Chamber of Commerce gave Tennessee an “F” on Truth in Advertising because the statewide results were remarkably different from what the NAEP determined to be students’ true understanding of the content. Closing the gap clearly shows how hard educators and the department have worked to provide clarity and transparency about student achievement. 

“Suffice to say, it’s disturbing to see that only 35 percent of the 4th graders in Tennessee read with proficiency.” Commissioner Schwinn said. “That’s not a statistic any parent is going to feel good about, but there’s also no reason why that can’t change rather quickly.”

“Teachers and students in this state have already proven once that they have what it takes to make drastic improvements over a short period of time, and my intention is to see that happen again,” Schwinn stated.

For more information on the 2019 NAEP results, go to the following link:




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