After a delay in releasing TCAP “quick scores” that led to TCAP results not being included in final grades for students in a number of Tennessee school districts, the results are finally in and they look positive.
The Department of Education Reports:
- While it was a year of transition for Tennessee teachers and students as they fully implemented the state’s new standards in math and English, scores increased on the majority of assessments.
- Nearly 50 percent of Algebra II students are on grade level, up from 31 percent in 2011. More than 13,000 additional Tennessee students are on grade level in Algebra II than when we first administered the test in 2011.
- High school English scores grew considerably over last year’s results in English I and English II.
- Achievement gaps for minority students narrowed in math and reading at both the 3-8 and high school levels.
- Approximately 100,000 additional Tennessee students are on grade level in math compared to 2010.
- More than 57,000 additional Tennessee students are on grade level in science compared to 2010.
In response to the release of the results, JC Bowman, Executive Director of Professional Educators of Tennessee (PET) issued the following press release:
Data from TCAP should continue to be analyzed and evaluated. It is unclear from a cursory glance of results exactly what this means to Tennessee educators.
We are pleased to see the gains in High School Math. That is a good sign. We must sustain that effort, and it bodes well for STEM programs in our state.
“It is clear we need to carefully consider the consequences of making a one-time standardized test the be-all, end-all for our students and educators” according to JC Bowman, Executive Director.
He added, “some evidence suggests improvements in student performance. But credit should also be given to school district policies and programs, as well as to educators focused on test-based accountability.”
“While performance is improving, the contribution of high-stakes testing to that effort remains unclear. It is critical we use data to improve instruction — but the verdict on the value of assessments this year is mixed” Bowman stated.
He concluded: “This year data provides general information about student performance, but lacks the nuance to provide any real instructional guidance for educators. Most educators believe TCAP or any state assessment should be used as a diagnostic tool, rather than as a punitive measure.”
Bowman echoes the concern of many educators when he urges caution regarding how the scores are used in the teacher evaluation process.
Additionally, Bowman has written recently about a possible moratorium on the use of testing data in teacher evaluations during the transition to Common Core-aligned tests.
Similarly, new Tennessee Education Association (TEA) President Barbara Gray lamented the over-reliance on standardized testing in a recent interview.
Finally, there’s the experiment of Performance-Based Assessment in at least one Kentucky school district. It’s an experiment set to expand and some are suggesting replacing standardized tests with performance-based assessment.
As Tennessee transitions to Common Core and puts out a bid for a test to assess the standards, now is a critical time to consider the type and frequency of testing in Tennessee and also to have a conversation about how that data is used for both teachers and students.
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