Scales to parents: "Prepare for lower test scores" - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Scales to parents: "Prepare for lower test scores"

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By David Carroll

dcarroll@wrcbtv.com

CHATTANOOGA (WRCB)- Hamilton County Schools Superintendent Dr. Jim Scales and his communications director Danielle Clark are asking principals to prepare parents for "their children's scores to be lower than ever before."

Citing "Tennessee's higher academic standards,"Dr. Scales has prepared a letter for parents to be distributed this month.  In the letter, Dr. Scales advises parents, "Don't get discouraged...ask for help, and know the facts."  He plans to address Board members on Thursday about "the probability of lower test scores."

Clark is advising principals to speak "with ONE VOICE....people need to be prepared for low scores." She has told principals that schools will send individual student profiles home during the week of October 11, with teachers discussing the TCAP scores with parents at conferences during the week of October 25.  The district and individual school data will be released statewide in early November.

On September 20, Governor Phil Bredesen and State Education Commissioner Tim Webb are expected to hold a press conference to introduce a theme of "Expect More, Achieve More," explaining the higher standards that have reportedly resulted in lower scores.

In his letter to parents, Dr. Scales notes that "preliminary data indicates that only 50% of students will score proficient in reading and math this year." Several area superintendents have told Eyewitness News that they too expect more of their schools to be on "failing" or "target" lists due to the higher state standards.

Dr. Scales adds that "the higher standards and the resulting lower scores are why we as a community must remain firm in our resolve to push our students to higher levels of academic success."

A list of "teacher talking points" being provided to principals states that "students are learning more than ever before, but the bar to measure that achievement has been raised.  It is hard to accept in the short term, but will yield positive benefits to students in the future."

The new system has four categories:

Advanced – Students who perform at this level demonstrate superior mastery in academic performance, thinking abilities, and application of understandings that reflect the knowledge and skills specified by the grade/course level content standards and are significantly prepared for the next level of study.

Proficient – Students who perform at this level demonstrate mastery in academic performance, thinking abilities, and application of understandings that reflect the knowledge and skills specified by the grade/course level content standards and are well prepared for the next level of study.

Basic – Students who perform at this level demonstrate partial mastery in academic performance, thinking abilities, and application of understandings that reflect the knowledge and skills specified by the grade/course level content standards and are minimally prepared for the next level of study.

Below Basic – Students who perform at this level have not demonstrated mastery in academic performance, thinking abilities, and application of understandings that reflect the knowledge and skills specified by the grade/course level content standards and are not prepared for the next level of study.

Communications director Danielle Clark told principals she is preparing "a draft of a letter you are free to send home with the individual student scores.  You can also tweak it to sound like you and fit your student population."  The letters are scheduled to be attached to the individual student profiles in early October, for release to parents between October 11-15.

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