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Tennessee releases 2020-2021 Spring TCAP state-level results

“These results show that COVID-19 has disrupted learning in every school district in Tennessee,” Gov. Lee said.

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Tennessee Governor Bill Lee and Education Commissioner Penny Schwinn announced the Spring 2021 Tennessee Comprehensive Assessment Program (TCAP) state-level results on Monday.

It is the first set of state-level data related to student academic achievement available since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The results include exams in English Language Arts (ELA), mathematics, science, and social studies.

“These results show that COVID-19 has disrupted learning in every school district in Tennessee,” said Gov. Lee.

Tennessee schools demonstrated their commitment to knowing where students are performing through a 95% student participation rate on the TCAP, officials said.

More than two million TCAP tests were administered this year to approximately 750,000 students, providing families and schools systems access to information that will help drive strategic decision-making for students.

Some highlights of the state-level 2021 Spring TCAP results include:

  • Tennessee data shows decreases in students scoring Mastered and On Track.
  • Tennessee data shows increases in students scoring Below.
  • While this year’s results track with state projections, Tennessee prevented the severe proficiency drops that some states have experienced due to the pandemic.
  • Data show the most negative impacts for economically disadvantaged students, urban/suburban students, English learners, and students of color.
  • Districts that provided opportunities for in-person instruction in 2020-21 saw less decline in student proficiency.

English Language Arts (ELA):

  • Overall English Language Arts proficiency dropped five points from 2019.
  • 3 in 10 Tennessee students are meeting grade-level expectations in ELA.
  • 1 in 7 economically disadvantaged students is meeting grade-level expectations in ELA.
  • ELA proficiency rates dropped four to six points across racial and ethnic lines.
  • Second and third grades scores showed large increases to students scoring Below
  • 68% of second graders scored Below (half of second-grade students participated in the optional assessment)
  • 47% of third-graders scored Below
  • Students scoring at Below in second and third grades are typically those who are not able to read proficiently.


  • 1 in 4 Tennessee students is on grade level in math.
  • 1 in 10 economically disadvantaged students is meeting grade-level expectations.
  • Black students were most impacted in math, with 67% scoring Below and 9% meeting grade level expectations.
  • Hispanic and Asian students had 12 and 13 percentage point declines, respectively, from 2019. 
  • White students experienced an 11-percentage point decline overall from 2019. 
  • Overall third-grade proficiency declined from 44% in 2019 to 31% in 2021, while fourth-grade proficiency declined from 46% in 2019 to 34% in 2021.
  • The greatest drops across subject areas were understanding and using mathematical notation to describe quantitative relationships and situations.


  • Proficiency rates dropped by a third in science, with only 38% of Tennessee students demonstrating proficiency.
  • Drops in science were larger in science than in any other subject area.

Social Studies:

  • The data saw fewer declines than other content areas and maintains performance from statewide increases that began in 2018 when standards were updated. 
  • While proficiency dropped by four points in middle school, it increased four points in high school.

To help Tennessee families and students understand the TCAP results, the TCAP Family Portal is available and provides access to test results from this year. 

The portal also includes test history features allowing families to track progress over time, TCAP scale scores and performance levels by subject, parent guides and resources, and individualized recommendations for improvements. 

Families of students that tested in spring 2021 can access student data now for TCAP and August 20 for TCAP-Alternate assessments. Districts will continue to provide paper score reports to families.

More information on TCAP results can be found here.

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