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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — With students returning to classrooms after two years of remote learning due to the COVID-19 pandemic, test scores are mostly improving in Memphis.

On Wednesday, the Tennessee Department of Education released the results of the 2022 Tennessee Comprehensive Assessment Program scores from the Memphis-Shelby County School District.

MSCS students improved in math, English, and social studies coming out of the global pandemic. The district says the 2022 results showed the strongest high school English scores in five years and almost double-digit gains in elementary reading and math.

  • Proficiency for all grades of MSCS students in reading and writing improved from 14% to 22%. However, MSCS still trails the state’s overall proficiency rate of 36%.
  • 13% of MSCS students are proficient in math, which is an increase from 7% in 2021. As a whole, the state’s proficiency rate in math is 30%.
  • Social studies proficiency for MSCS middle school students increased by 8% and high school students improved by 4%.

District Superintendent Dr. Joris Ray released the following statement:

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. We are trending in the right direction, but we know we have more work to do. We are encouraged, not satisfied. These are community schools and recovering from the pandemic disruption will take a community effort. 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.

Assessment standards for science within Tennessee schools were reset in 2019. Both MSCS elementary and middle school students improved in science in 2022.

However, the district’s high school TCAP scores in science dropped by 3%.

Recent reports show thousands of second-grade students, more than half, are not reading at the district’s required level. 

MSCS acknowledged a community-wide struggle in literacy and said according to Literacy Mid-South, 1 in 7 local adults read at or below a sixth-grade level due to concentrated poverty and trauma. 

Ray said educators are doing what they can to make a difference.

“Before, during, after school tutoring, we’ve done a wonderful job in reducing the class size, K-2 from 25 to one to 13 to one. We’ve put all of our efforts in really rallying the community around literacy and we will get there,” he said.

Ray also said his team has made big investments in social-emotional learning and invested in professional development for faculty. 

“Tomorrow we will be back to work because we know that there is more work to do. We are encouraged but not satisfied,” he said.

He is encouraging families to help out too and said reading early in the home is key.

Memphis-Shelby County Schools said they are working to recruit more tutors, enroll more students in Advanced Placement and honors classes, and are holding year-round professional development sessions.

To view the 2021-22 TCAP results for all Tennessee districts, visit here.