1) Children were forced to take TCAPs and End of Course exams soon after their communities were ravaged by storms and tornadoes. It doesn't take a genius to figure out that their scores are not going to truly reflect what these children are capable of doing.
2) There were errors discovered on the 4th grade math TCAP test and in TCAPpractice booklets. Where there is smoke, there is fire.
3) Several parents have asked the TDOE to see copies of the TCAP tests their children took--all requests have been denied even though we have yet to find a law that prohibits us, as parents, from seeing this test. Transparency anyone?
But wait....There's more!
4) Just yesterday, the Tennessee Department of Education (TDOE) informed districts that they will not have the TCAP "quick scores" back in time for districts to include them in grade calculations on final report cards! The scores, by law, make up 15-25%of a child's final semester grades and teachers use the percentage of problems correct (i.e., quick scores) on the TCAP to determine the semester grades.
We have obtained a copy of the letter the TDOE sent to the state's school district directors and, from what we can tell, the TDOE is supposedly conducting a statistical analysis (i.e., "post-equating") on the quick scores and that is why the scores will be delayed. (According to the letter, in the past they they conducted post-equating after the quick scores were released and that is why they were able to get the scores out earlier.) Even though the TDOE suggested that districts delay the release of final grades, some districts are applying for waivers from the TDOE, asking that their student's TCAP scores not be included in their grades. It remains to be seen if the TDOE will honor these requests.
We have lots of questions for the TDOE:
- When did you decide to make this change?
- Why were districts told at the last minute about this change?
- What about the districts that don't get waivers? Are their teachers supposed to come back to work during summer vacation to complete final grades?
- What about the districts that do get waivers? Kids all over the state stressed out, to the point of illness, over these tests. And all of a sudden, all of that stress and hard work will have been for naught! How is this fair to our children? And what about the kids who needed those scores to increase their grades? How is this fair to them? (Don't get us wrong--we despise the requirement that TCAP scores be included in grades, but we despise the additional emotional trauma inflicted on our kids even more.)
- And what about the teachers whose job security is dependent upon these scores? How can we be assured that the scores are not purposefully being manipulated to reflect an agenda that includes undermining traditionally educated teachers (Teach for America, anyone?), closing neighborhood schools, and opening unaccountable, privately-run charter schools? (Transparency is not something the TN DOE is known for.)
- And last, but not least, would you allow a group of independent, 3rd party statisticians, testing experts, and parents to be a part of the current "post-equating" process so we can be assured that you are not attempting to manipulate the very scores that may affect our children's grades and definitely will affect their teachers' evaluations?
To the legislators reading this post:
We appreciate all that you did to help protect our children, their teachers, and their schools this past legislative session. But, as you can tell, there is much more work to be done. Please keep this in mind during this campaign season and, if you are re-elected, during next year's legislative session. We are desperate for your help. We are fighting for our children the best we can, but we are battling a bureaucratic nightmare. Using test scores to judge teachers and our students is clearly wrought with errors at every turn. It's time to find a more effective, and much less emotionally traumatizing, manner of evaluation.
- a parent's comment on Facebook