State leaders meet to discuss ways to improve education
JACKSON, Tenn. — Leaders are wanting to quickly pass bills that are aimed at helping schools navigate through the coronavirus pandemic and allowing them to prepare for the next school year.
One of several bills presented during the session was the Tennessee Learning Loss Remediation and Student Acceleration Act, which will create after school or summer learning programs for students who are struggling.
“So it ensures that those students at the end of third grade starting in 2023 have the first opportunity to either demonstrate proficiency through an opportunity to re-test. We know that there are a number of students especially in that approaching category who are very close, maybe they just need one more opportunity to take a short form assessment,” said Commissioner Penny Schwinn for the Tennessee Department of Education.
Legislators also say they plan to ensure teachers and students aren’t punished for poor standardized testing scores this year to allocate resources for tutoring and other programs to bring kids back up to speed, and to implement a new phonics program to help boost literacy rates.
Each bill is designed to help improve reading and math. Other bills include the Tennessee Literacy Success Act.
“That’s why this is really saying we have to be able to say this is the way that we want to teach reading here in Tennessee so as a prep provider, I am going to ensure every teacher has this foundational knowledge in how to a phonics driven early reading program,” said Schwinn.
Both Governor Bill Lee and Education Commissioner Penny Schwinn said only 34 percent of Tennessee students are proficient or advanced readers by fourth grade pre-COVID, something isn’t working and it’s time to get back to the basics.
“It’s about giving people a lot of options and this is the one that has been proven to work most effectively with the latest amount of kids and that’s why we want to make sure that is the one that is led in all of our prep providers,” said Schwinn.
Commissioner Schwinn also mentioned that children not reading at grade level are four times more likely to drop out of high school.