The Tennessee Department of Education recently sent an apology to school districts for failing to let them know it changed the way test scores are calculated.
Some teachers say the TCAP scores they got back were higher than expected, but they soon realized this wasn’t due to students actually improving.
This year the state changed its methodology of how it calculates the TCAP “quick scores,” yielding higher scores than in years past.
Those scores are 25 percent of 3rd through 8th grade student’s second semester grades in Washington County.
Some teachers said the scores this year give a false reading of what the student is capable of.
Washington County sixth grade math teacher Jenee Peters said when her school got its TCAP quick scores back this year, “There was a great celebration. Everyone was excited, teachers reached out to parents and everyone was happy,” Peters said.
Peters said the scores were higher than expected and just a few days later, “There was that big letdown.”
The state issued an apology saying there was a miscommunication and it is using a new method to calculate the quick scores this year.
“In the past if they had 100 quick score that told us that they made 100 on the test portion, not this year. They told us that that doesn’t mean necessarily, if they got 100 quick score that doesn’t necessarily mean that they made 100 on the test,” Peters said. She said she doesn’t know what the 100 quick score means this year.
In an email the state told News Channel 11:
“This decision was not widely communicated with districts, and has been a source of confusion for districts and educators as quick scores have been recently released. While the methodology for calculating grades 3-8 quick scores changed, the bar or expectation for student proficiency has not changed; it is the same as it was last year,” Ashley Ball with the Tennessee Department of Education said.
The miscommunication has sparked about 15 advocacy groups in Tennessee to start a petition calling for transparency with testing in the state.
“It’s a transparency issue, it’s a communication issue, and this is important,’ Peters said.
One thing Peters said she would like to see is the test questions.
“The tests need to be published, parents deserve to see the tests, teachers deserve to see the tests, the purpose of tests is student learning, should I not see the test, should I not see how my kids did, what questions they missed?” Peters said.
The state said it will release statewide TCAP data publicly in late June, and additional data in late July. The interactive online Report Card will be available in the fall.
Over the next two weeks the state will host three regional meetings to explain the new way of calculating test scores to educators.
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