MEMPHIS, Tenn. — The Tennessee Comprehensive Assessment Program (TCAP) scores are now in, and report data shows students attending Memphis-Shelby County Schools are improving in English Language Arts (ELA) and Math, despite heavy criticisms of the administration’s ability to help students progress.
According to TCAP data released by the Tennessee Department of Education (TDOE) for 2022 testing in MSCS district, 22% of all students performed at grade level in ELA, with 4% of those students exceeding grade level requirements.
The data also shows that 13% of all students in the district met grade level requirements in math, with 3% of those students exceeding grade level requirements.
When comparing 2021 test scores to 2022 test scores, students made significant improvements, showing upward trends.
TCAP scores from 2021 showed that only 15% of all students met grade level requirements in ELA, and only 7% of students in the district met grade level requirements in math.
RELATED: MSCS to review 2022 TCAP test scores
Superintendent Dr. Joris Ray, who has been continuously called out by parents and academic unions for MSCS student’s low academic performance, recognized the advancements made while acknowledging that more work needs to be done.
“I am thrilled that our elementary and middle school reading scores have returned to pre-pandemic levels, and our high school reading scores have surpassed them,” said Superintendent Dr. Joris M. Ray. “We are trending in the right direction, but we know we have more work to do. We are encouraged, not satisfied.”
Although scoring for ELA revealed that students are performing at pre-pandemic levels, scoring for math lagged. However, when comparing 2022 math test scores to 2021 scores, students performed higher.
Are students still behind?
Even with slight improvements and an upward trend in performance, most MSCS students are still extremely behind.
Data released by TDOE shows that although 13% of all students in the district met grade level requirements for math, 87% percent of them did not, with 27% of those students performing below the state's grade level requirements.
In 2021, 94% of students in the district performed below grade level in math, which was a gross increase compared to 2019 scoring results that revealed that only 77% of students in the district were not meeting grade level requirements for math.
Data from 2022 ELA test scores shows that 79% of students in the district did not meet grade level requirements.
Similar declines in performance for 2021 ELA student test scoring was seen when compared to 2019 scoring results, with 86% of students in the district failing to meet grade level requirements in 2021 and only 80% of all students failing to meet requirements in 2019.
When comparing 2021 data to 2019 scoring data, declines in performance levels can largely be attributed to the lack of in-person learning that students were forced to adjust to during the pandemic.
How are students performing by grade level?
When separated by grade level, 2022 Math test scores revealed that only 17% of elementary aged students, 12% of middle school students, and 8% of high school students performed at grade level.
ELA 2022 data showed that only 23% of elementary students, 18% of middle school students, and 25% of high school students met grade level requirements.
All other students either scored at levels that were approaching or below grade level for 2022 TCAP testing.
Dr. Ray said that showing consistent progress is going to have to be a team effort from parents, teachers and administration.
“These are community schools and recovering from the pandemic disruption will take a community effort,” said Superintendent Ray. “Although we still have miles to go, I am so proud of the resilience our educators, parents, and students continue to show. We are bouncing back stronger together.”
TDOE said that operational science tests were not completed in 2019, and the state reset test standards in 2021. Test standards were also reset for social studies, TDOE said.
As many take this morning to review the overwhelming amount of data and percentages released by TDOE, many may be happy to see improvement while still being shocked by just how far behind students are as their performance shows their struggle to meet grade level requirements.
To see the full report, click here. TCAP Data for Arlington, Bartlett, Collierville, Germantown, Lakeland, and Millington school districts can be found starting on the page numbers listed below.
Arlington- p. 82
Bartlett- p. 102
Collierville- p. 314
Germantown- p. 474
Lakeland- p. 775
Millington- p. 995
Editor's Note: When reporting grade level requirements, the author summed "Met" and "Exceeding" percentages reported by TDOE to retrieve the overall meeting grade level percentage. The same process was completed to report percentages for how many students did not meet grade level requirements, whether they scored at levels that were "Approaching" or "Below" grade level.