NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — On Tuesday, the Tennessee Department of Education released the 2022 TCAP scores, which showed students were mostly back to pre-pandemic testing levels.

“I’m super impressed with what our districts have accomplished,” Education Commissioner Penny Schwinn said.

Schwinn praised the progress of students and teachers on Tuesday when the scores were released, and while almost everyone can agree that those two groups worked incredibly hard to make up for years of COVID “learning loss,” the results still aren’t great.

If you take a closer look at the data, about 55 to 70% of all students in the state still aren’t meeting TCAP expectations in math, science, social studies, and English language arts.

House Democratic Caucus Chair Vincent Dixie says he was surprised to hear Gov. Bill Lee and other Republicans praising the new TCAP scores on Tuesday.

“If you took a test and made a 25% grade and then you re-took the test and got 30% you’re still failing,” Dixie said. “Would you celebrate that 5% success? No, you wouldn’t and that’s where we are here as a state.”

On Tuesday, Lee released the following statement:

“These results mark encouraging strides for our students and also show the positive impact of early interventions to combat learning loss. I commend Tennessee teachers for their work to help students make academic gains, close achievement gaps and prepare students for life beyond the classroom.”

Gov. Bill Lee

“We cannot be satisfied with where we are. We have to continue to improve. But we also have to invest in our children and our teachers,” Dixie said.

Dixie explained that even with a $1 billion investment into public schools with the recent passage of the TISA bill, Tennessee still ranks as one of the lowest student-funded states in the country.

“We need to invest at least another 2 more billion in there just to get to the same level of funding as Kentucky,” Dixie said.

Meanwhile, Tennessee Education Association President Beth Brown sent News 2 a statement Wednesday explaining that the 2022 TCAP scores clearly reflect in-person learning is critical to student success:

“The 2021-22 Tennessee Comprehensive Assessment Program (TCAP) test results clearly demonstrate the importance of in-person instruction and the value of Tennessee public school educators’ commitment to their students and schools.

This year’s test scores show that in-person instruction works. There’s nothing more critical than a teacher working directly with students in the classroom, and this year’s TCAP results demonstrate that fact. The best learning happens when we are in schools.

While TCAP results are an important indicator of student progress, the focus should be on the individual student, not the test.

These high-stakes tests should be viewed as just one data point to measure student learning. Standardized year-end tests are not the end-all of understanding student achievement. Far from it, we see our younger students demonstrating grade-level reading skills at better rates through benchmark assessments than what is reflected in the state’s high-stakes test. We must keep the TCAP gains in perspective, though improvement of any data point will make a teacher smile.

As we’re gearing up for the next school year, teachers are leaving the classroom in ever-larger numbers. Whether it is the higher cost of insurance, insufficient salary or longer working hours, many Tennessee educators are looking outside the classroom to support their families. They have demonstrated their commitment to their students, and it’s time for the state to demonstrate its commitment to educators. Now more than ever, they need to feel supported in their work.”