Dale Chu reports that Tennessee is taking a Texas-like approach when it comes to testing in the age of COVID-19. Here’s more:
Last month, Texas made assessment headlines when they offered optional, end-of-year assessments to districts and families free of charge in response to the cancellation of spring testing and the anticipated drag on student performance caused by the pandemic. Not to be outdone, Tennessee just made a similar announcement, albeit aimed at schools and districts rather than individual students and families, that includes three options: a beginning of year readiness test, an item bank for the creation of customized tests, and a full length mock assessment.
Testing-1-2-3 readers may recall that Tennessee has earned some notoriety in recent years for playing a particularly vigorous game of musical chairs vis-a-vis their state assessment, with Pearson being the state’s third testing vendor in a five year period. The tumult in the Volunteer State means that Penny Schwinn, the state’s newish education commissioner, has her work cut out in trying to re-establish the assessment system’s credibility; making these resources available free-of-charge could help to broker some good will.
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I think it is telling that TN has waited this long to publish all their questions, after years of parents and teachers asking. Now that the information is useless to the companies they can afford to give it away, to preserve the chance for future contracts. Figuring out how district admins will actually ask these test questions to be used next year, that’s a different story. The kids are going to be diagnosticed to death this year. And the breadth of the student preparation is going to be massive. From a social and logistic perspective principals won’t have many options for dealing with this breadth, even if it is well monitored. What a mess.