Schools receive TCAP scores: Local directors explain impact
by CHRISTY ARMSTRONG Banner Staff Writer
Jul 02, 2014 | 1709 views | 0 0 comments | 16 16 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Johnny McDaniel
Johnny McDaniel
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Martin Ringstaff
Martin Ringstaff
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The Tennessee Department of Education has released the results of the standardized tests taken by students statewide during the 2013-14 school year.

State officials released the scores of the Tennessee Comprehensive Assessment Program tests with a ceremony in Nashville on Tuesday.

The scores showed Tennessee students had achieved slight gains in the number of students who were said to be “proficient” in specific subjects over the previous year.

Gov. Bill Haslam praised student improvements in an announcement of the scores, crediting the state’s educators for them.

“Systemic change over time is hard work, but we continue to see evidence that shows our teachers’ efforts are paying off,” Haslam said.

Students in grades 3 through 8 received 2013-14 math scores that said 22.9 percent were at an “advanced” level, 28.4 percent were “proficient,” 32.6 percent were “basic,” and 16.1 percent were “below basic.” 

In reading and language arts, 11.3 percent of students in grades 3 through 8 were “advanced,” 38.2 were “proficient,” 38.8 percent were “basic,” and 11.7 percent were “below basic.” 

In science, 19.2 percent of students in those grades were “advanced,” 44.4 percent were “proficient,” 22.6 percent were “basic,” and 13.8 percent were “below basic.” 

In social studies, 42.2 percent of third through eighth-graders were “advanced,” 42.8 percent were “proficient,” 14.9 percent were “basic,” and 0.1 percent were “below basic.”

Students in grades 9 through 12 received the following percentage distributions: 

—Algebra I: 32.3 percent “advanced,” 30.1 percent “proficient,” 24.1 percent “basic” and 13.5 percent “below basic.” 

—Algebra II: 16.0 percent “advanced,” 31.9 percent “proficient,” 31.6 percent “basic” and 20.5 percent “below basic.” 

—Biology I: 18.3 percent “advanced,” 45.2 percent “proficient,” 21.1 percent “basic” and 15.4 percent “below basic.” 

—English I: 10.4 percent “advanced,” 61.0 percent “proficient,” 20.7 percent “basic” and 7.9 percent “below basic.” 

—English II: 12.9 percent “advanced,” 50.5 percent “proficient,” 26.8 percent “basic” and 9.8 percent “below basic.” 

—English III: 11.6 percent “advanced,” 26.5 percent “proficient,” 40.1 percent “basic” and 21.8 percent “below basic.” 

—U.S. History: 52.8 percent “advanced,” 43.1 percent “proficient,” 4.1 percent “basic” and 0.0 percent “below basic.” 

The scores had been expected to be released in time for them to be included in students’ grades for the 2013-14 school year, but the state took longer than usual to analyze and release the scores.

After the Tennessee Department of Education announced in May the release of the scores would be delayed, school systems were able to request waivers to make them exempt from having to include results of the TCAP test in students’ end-of-year grades.

Both the Bradley County and Cleveland school systems received such waivers, meaning local students’ end-of-year grades did not include TCAP scores.

That presented some challenges for school systems accustomed to making the scores part of the regular grades.

“It did create a communication issue,” said Johnny McDaniel, director of the Bradley County school system.

The local school systems were left to explain the change to parents. Both McDaniel and Dr. Martin Ringstaff, director of the Cleveland City Schools system, explained they used various means, including sending home letters and putting information online, to let them know of the changes.

McDaniel said his understanding of the reason for the longer-than-usual delay for state test results was because of the state Legislature delaying the use of the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers test, a test designed to align with Common Core state standards and replace the TCAP.

Tennessee students are now expected to continue to take the TCAP again at the end of the 2014-15 school year, according to the Tennessee Department of Education’s website.

While the state has a plan for next year, local students were this year left with test results that are not expected to count unless the local school systems decide to add them into students 2013-14 school year grades.

The two local school systems are still waiting to receive system and school-level TCAP results, as those scores were not released at the same time as the state averages.

At this point in time, the Bradley County school system has no definite plans to retroactively add the TCAP scores into students’ end-of-year grades, once the scores are released.

However, McDaniel said the county school system plans to “look at how it could benefit them.”

While he said it was too soon to tell if it would be done on a systemwide or case-by-case basis, he stressed TCAP scores could be factored into the grades only if doing so is found to be “a benefit to students” by improving their overall grades for the most recent school year.

Ringstaff said his system also plans to look at the test results to see if there would be any benefit to added them into students’ grades.

“We wouldn’t add the scores if they hurt a student,” Ringstaff said.

He said the principals and counselors in the city system are expected to look at the scores and work to add TCAP scores to the transcripts of student whose overall grades would be improved by the addition.

Both school directors speculated the local test scores will be made available to them later this month. Details on those results will be published after they are released.