Nation’s Report Card Shows Shelby County Schools Have Greatest Decline In The Country

Image Credit: Nation’s Report Card

The Tennessee Conservative [By Jason Vaughn] –

Newly released data places Shelby County Schools with some of the biggest drops in math and reading scores across the country, according to the “nation’s report card.”

The U.S. Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics released the results of their National Assessment of Educational Progress, or NAEP, on Monday. NAEP is the largest “nationally representative and continuing assessment” of how students are achieving in public and private schools across the nation, administering assessments to fourth and eighth graders.

This year’s results are the first opportunity for states to compare student progress since the COVID-19 pandemic. They show the worst drop that the tests have ever measured in math, according to NCES. No state showed growth in math.

In Tennessee, the number of students scoring at or below the NAEP basic level increased. The state had the greatest loss in eighth-grade math, with an 8 -point decrease compared to 2019 scores. The average score, however, was not that different from the national average. 

Across the state, fourth-grade reading dropped 7 points while eighth-grade reading dropped 6 points. Fourth-grade math showed a decline of 3 points. 

Eighth grade math was also the largest drop for Shelby County Schools, with a 14-point loss compared to their 2019 scores. This was the largest drop shown for any of the released schools in the country. Fourth grade math scores dropped by 12 points.

Shelby County Schools also showed a decline in reading with eighth-grade scores showing a loss of 6 points and fourth-grade students declining by 8 points.

Tennessee Education Commissioner Penny Schwinn told The Tennessean that they were not all that shocked by the NAEP results after seeing state testing results. She attributes lower scores to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“This measures really the impact of the pandemic, so it’s not going to cover a lot of our bigger initiatives like Reading 360 and Tennessee All Corps,” Schwinn stated. “Those either covered grades that were not tested or they started right around this test. So, we expected to see declines because that matched what our spring of 2021 data looks like.”

NCES Commissioner Peggy Carr, however, does not think the pandemic is the only thing to blame for the decrease in achievement.

“We have massive comprehensive declines everywhere,” Carr said in a Friday briefing. “In some cases, schools were in remote learning longer or shorter than others…It’s just too complex to draw the straight line in the way that I think people kind of want to do it.”

About the Author: Jason Vaughn, Media Coordinator for The Tennessee Conservative  ~ Jason previously worked for a legacy publishing company based in Crossville, TN in a variety of roles through his career.  Most recently, he served as Deputy Director for their flagship publication. Prior, he was a freelance journalist writing articles that appeared in the Herald Citizen, the Crossville Chronicle and The Oracle among others.  He graduated from Tennessee Technological University with a Bachelor’s in English-Journalism, with minors in Broadcast Journalism and History.  Contact Jason at

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