Thousands of students will begin taking state assessments on a variety of subjects across the state next week.
And for the first time since the pandemic began in March 2020, this year’s standardized test results can have major impacts on students and their schools.
Here’s what you need to know about who and what is being assessed as testing begins on Monday.
When does the test start?
the Tennessee Comprehensive Assessment Programor TCAP, the test window extends this spring from April 18 to May 6. School districts have the authority to set their own district schedule within the state’s three-week window.
Metro Nashville Public School students in grades 3 through 8 will begin testing on Monday. End-of-course exams in ten subjects and International Baccalaureate (IB) exams for secondary school students will also start on April 18 and run until May 20.
Who and what is tested?
Tennessee state tests are designed to “provide feedback on students’ academic progress and alignment with grade level expectations,” according to the Tennessee Department of Education.
Students in grades 3 through 8 are required to take TCAP tests in English, math, science, and social studies. Secondary students sit end-of-course exams in ten subjects: English I and II; integrated mathematics I, II and III; algebra I and II; geometry, US history and biology.
Do tests “count”?
State tests have been scrambled for many students in recent years. Testing was completely canceled in the spring of 2020 when schools closed due to the coronavirus.
In 2021, schools were required to hold in-person testing with at least 80% of students participating (a decrease from the typical requirement of 90%), but lawmakers passed legislation who held students, teachers and schools “harmless” all the consequences of those test results.
With back to school and most Tennessee students returning to in-person learning this year, lawmakers haven’t decided to do the same.
This year’s test results could affect schools’ accountability measures, such as whether they will be designated an award school or a priority school.
How might the results affect my child?
For students, state law requires that exit-of-course (EOC) test scores count for at least 15% of a student’s grade in high school courses requiring such exams if results are released. to school on time.
TCAP scores are also sometimes used to determine eligibility for admission to some of the metropolitan schools’ magnet or choice schools.
Next year a new third year retention law will come into force. If a third-year student does not take a grade-level test in the 2022-23 school year, they will have to be withheld if they did not attend summer school or engage in a year of intensive tutoring.
Are the tests online? In person?
Students in grades 3 to 8 will take their tests on paper this year, with high school students testing online. Despite efforts by some lawmakers to require all testing to be done with paper and pencil, the state plans to postpone all online testing.
Online testing in Tennessee has a history of problems, resulting from its inception in the spring of 2016. That year, the state testing provider encountered server issues, and the assessment ended up being canceled altogether in elementary and middle school. In 2018, technical problems disrupted spring testing again.
Can I exclude my child?
State and federal laws require student participation in state assessments, and the Tennessee Department of Education released a memo from last year emphasizing that “parents cannot refuse or prevent a child from participating”.
Still, the state has seen a growing number of parents withdraw their children from standardized tests simply refusing to send them to school on the days they would be tested. Students who miss testing days are often tested on make-up days, but ultimately the state simply wouldn’t record data for those students.
Test turnout rates, however, can impact schools and districts depending on state and federal requirements.
When will I see my child’s scores?
Families will likely be able to access scores by June on the TCAP Family Portal at familyreport.tnedu.gov/logindepending on the department.
Student scores from Metro schools will also be uploaded to their personal student dashboard.
For more information on the state’s TCAP Family Portal, visit: bestforall.tnedu.gov.
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Meghan Mangrum covers education for the USA TODAY Network – Tennessee. Contact her at [email protected] Follow her on Twitter @memangrum.