UPDATE: Tennessee to release statewide 2013 - 2014 TCAP data - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

UPDATE: Tennessee to release statewide 2013 - 2014 TCAP data

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UPDATE: Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam and Tennessee Department of Education Commissioner Kevin Huffman will host an event Tuesday at the State Capitol to release the statewide 2013-14 Tennessee Comprehensive Assessment Program (TCAP) data. 

The governor and commissioner will host the event around 9:15 Tuesday morning at the Old Supreme Court Chambers on the first floor at the State Capitol building.

The TCAP results It will only be the statewide numbers, not individual counties or individual schools.  

Those numbers for the individual counties and schools will come in August.

UPDATED FRIDAY MAY 23, 4:45 p.m.

State education officials sent this message to superintendents and school directors Friday afternoon:

We are releasing quick scores this afternoon, after hearing back from external experts who signed off on the accuracy and validity of the results. While we had anticipated it might take longer for their review, the review is complete and we want to put them in your hands as quickly as possible.

I have had conversations with many of you over the last three days, and want to thank you for your willingness to pick up the phone and engage directly and honestly. As I have tried to convey, our objective has been and will be to ensure accuracy of results precisely because we know how important the results are to your staff and students.

We know that the delay of several days caused some significant operational and planning challenges for you, and while the opportunity to receive a waiver from the state helped, it did not fully mitigate the challenges you faced. I am sorry that the delay put you in this position.

We are relieved that the post-equating process, led and verified by outside experts, showed that the tests are fair, accurate and comparable to previous years. We apologize again for the four day delay in results. Please know that we will continue to strive for both speed and accuracy, but I hope you understand that when these two goals come into conflict, we have to err on the side of complete accuracy.

As always, please feel free to call or email with any questions. I hope that you all have a nice holiday weekend.

Erin O'Hara
Assistant Commissioner for Data & Research

A delay in calculating TCAP scores from the Tennessee Department of Education is resulting in waivers that will allow school districts to issue 2nd semester grades without the state test scores.  Several districts have requested, and been granted the waivers, according to state officials.  Hamilton County is among them.

State Department spokesperson Kelli Gauthier told Eyewitness News, "The department informed districts that the “scale scores” for TCAP in grades 3-8 – which are used in the calculation of student grades – will be delayed until next week. We have reached out to each school district to let superintendents know that they can apply for a waiver if this creates an operational challenge for them. We have already granted waivers to districts that have made these requests.”

Dr. Kirk Kelly, Hamilton County's Director of Testing and Accountability tells Eyewitness News that the waiver, for this year only, will result in the school district issuing grades on time, without TCAP results.  Under state law, TCAP scores in math, social studies, science and language arts for grades 3-8 are supposed to make up 15% of a student's 2nd semester grade average.  However, local officials have been notified of a delay "of up to ten days," according to Dr. Kelly.  "By then, our teachers are on summer vacation," he said.

Dr. Kelly said the delay is causing extra work for administrators, but should be of little concern to most parents and students.  "If the TCAP scores are important to any individual student, they will be available in a few days, just not in time for report cards to be issued this week," he said.  "Because of the waiver, the scores will not count on a student's report card grade this year, so it plays no factor in whether a student passes or fails."

Erin O'Hara, the state's assistant commissioner for data and research sent this letter to county and city school directors:  " We wanted to notify you of a delay in the release of quick scores for grades 3-8 Achievement and MAAS assessments. As you all know, we narrowed our assessments this year in order to eliminate focus on SPIs that were not aligned to the state standards. Given the narrowing of the assessment this year the department decided, in consultation with our external Technical Advisory Committee (TAC), to conduct post-equating prior to the release of quick scores. We were able to accomplish this already for End of Course, which we did first given the impact on graduation. The 3-8 process will delay the release of 3-8 Achievement and MAAS quick scores until the end of next week. Post-equating compares the performance of test items on this year’s assessment to those of last year and requires a large stratified sample of responses from students statewide. 

Normally, the department releases quick scores prior to post equating. Post-equating allows the department, our psychometric staff, and our TAC, to review the data more thoroughly before finalizing quick scores and given the number of changes made this year, we want to do this before releasing scores. It is likely that this will be our process in future years as well. The process of post-equating takes approximately ten days and we will communicate with districts when the process is complete.

We recognize that delaying quick score release has an impact on finalizing student grades and report cards, and apologize for the inconvenience for you and your teams. At the same time, through discussions with our TAC, we want to take appropriate measures to ensure the accuracy of the quick scores.

Pursuant to state law, test scores are required to be a portion of student final grades in grades 3-8. Given the delay, districts can either choose to delay the release of final grades until after the state releases quick scores or districts can finalize student grades without the quick score included and revise grades as appropriate once quick scores are available."

Sequatchie County director of schools Johnny Cordell issued this statement: 

"School systems across the state were notified by the Tennessee Department of Education that there would be a delay of at least 10 or more days in the release of TCAP scores for students in grades 3-8.  TCAP scores are required by law to count as a percentage of the students’ final grade.

The state’s delay required districts to move quickly in deciding whether to postpone students’ end-of-the-year report cards or request a waiver allowing them to disregard TCAP scores in calculating students’ final grades.  I requested a waiver.

“This situation is completely out of our hands.  The delay in results rests solely on the shoulders of the Tennessee Department of Education.  We are making the best we can out of an unanticipated situation.”

One county school official, who asked not to be identified said, "It's not a crisis for parents and students, it's just chaos for school administrators.  Most parents won't care, or won't notice that the TCAP scores are not included.  We had hoped to have the information on time, and in an orderly manner, but we'll just have to wait.  The information, and the results will get to everyone, just not as early as we had hoped."

Geri Summerford, president of the Tennessee Education Association, released this statement:  The Tennessee Department of Education informed directors of schools that TCAP scores will not be available before the end of the school year, as is typically the case for calculation of students’ final grades. The state’s decision to delay the release of the scores has serious implications for students, families, teachers and administrators statewide.

“This delay is unacceptable and further illustrates the many consequences of making a one-time standardized test the be-all, end-all for our students and teachers. School districts being unable to calculate final grades creates a domino effect of problems for everyone from the local director of schools right down to the students.”

Test-related anxiety and distrust are already high among students, parents and educators in our state because of Commissioner Huffman’s insistence on placing more and more weight on these tests. The state cites a change in assessments this school year as the reason for the delay. Why are districts just now being informed about something that the department has known about for months?

If TCAP was used as a diagnostic tool, rather than as a punitive measure, our schools would not be in the absurd position of deciding whether to send students home without report cards or send home grades that may change once the state chooses to release the scores."

Teachers face a tremendous challenge in providing the best education for all students, particularly when forced to spend so much time focused on standardized tests. The mishandling of this entire situation should be enough to cause legislators and communities to reevaluate, and correct, the ‘reform’ path the commissioner is leading our students down."

CONTACT DAVID CARROLL:  dcarroll@wrcbtv.com


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Channel 3 Eyewitness News Anchor David Carroll covers education news and issues at schools in the Tennessee Valley. More>>

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