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Schooling during COVID-19: Fall Semester Trends from Six Tennessee Districts

Throughout the past year, TERA has worked with six school districts in Tennessee to inform evidence-based decision making as they seek to best support their students during and after the pandemic. As part of this effort, we analyzed data typically collected by schools—such as enrollment, attendance, and teacher retention data—and supported districts in conducting surveys to better understand the experiences of students and teachers. In this report, we summarize key patterns within and across these sources of data from the six districts that capture the experiences of students and educators during the first half of this school year. 


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Key Findings
Mentors Matter  
  • Students felt supported by their teachers, but some students struggled with motivation and engagement with virtual learning.

  • More students were chronically absent this fall than in previous years, and absenteeism increased the most among English Learners, students of color, and students who are economically disadvantaged. 

  • Student enrollment decreased in the lowest grades, and more students withdrew for homeschooling, transferred to non-public schools, and dropped out this year than in previous years.

  • Retention rates for teachers and school leaders increased in all districts this fall, but many educators reported that they have had increased responsibilities, insufficient planning time, and concerns with burnout. 

Suggested Citation:

Patrick, S. K., Woods, S. C., Bala, N., & Santelli, F. A. (2021). Schooling during COVID-19: Fall semester trends from six Tennessee school districts. Tennessee Education Research Alliance.