Student Assessment in Tennessee

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Changes to assessment in Tennessee were made in response to feedback from educators, parents, and students—including eliminating Part I in all subjects, restructuring the test to better fit within the school day and year, and reducing overall testing time. The changes come as the department finalizes its contract with Questar, the primary vendor for the 2016-17 Tennessee Comprehensive Assessment Program (TCAP). 

Overall, testing time has been reduced by nearly a third. The exact reductions vary by grade. In grades 3-8, students will have tests that are a total of 200-210 minutes shorter. As an example, for a typical third grader, the 2016-17 TCAP assessments will be shorter by three and a half hours compared to last year. In high school, most individual End of Course assessments have been shortened by 40-120 minutes. For a typical eleventh grader, this would mean the 2016-17 TCAP End of Course assessments will be shorter in total by 225 minutes—or three hours and 45 minutes—compared to last year.

TCAP has been the state’s testing program since 1988, and it includes TNReady state assessments in math, English language arts, social studies, and science. As the state has transitioned to higher academic standards over the past several years, and will continue to do so, those tests have become better aligned to what educators are teaching. The assessments now include more rigorous questions that measure students’ writing, critical thinking, and problem solving skills. 

Moving forward, Tennessee will phase in online testing over multiple years to ensure state, district, and vendor technology readiness. For the 2016-17 school year, the state assessment for grades 3–8 will be administered via paper and pencil. However, the department will work closely with Questar to provide an online option for high school End of Course exams if both schools and the testing platform demonstrate early proof of successful online administration. Even if schools demonstrate readiness for online administration, districts will still have the option to choose paper and pencil assessments for their high school students.

Assessment blueprints, which outline the number of questions devoted to various groups of standards, are now available here. Additional resources, including sample test questions and resources that will help educators, parents, and students to become more familiar with the assessment, will be available this fall.

Seeking Applicants for Item Content and Bias Review:  Social Studies Grades 5-8

The department is seeking educators to participate in item review for social studies. Educators will be reviewing items for the upcoming Spring 2017 Social Studies Field Test. Educators will be selected for the following committees:

  • Social Studies Grade 5
  • Social Studies Grade 6
  • Social Studies Grade 7
  • Social Studies Grade 8
  • Item Bias and Sensitivity

All interested applicants should complete an online application here.  The application window will open on Thursday Sept. 29, and close Monday, Oct. 17, at 5 p.m. CDT.  The application along with a brief description of the responsibilities and time commitment for each committee will be posted here on Sept. 29. All applicants will be notified of status no later than Monday, Oct. 21.

Job Description:  Social Studies Item Reviewer

Positions:
  1. Item Content Reviewer reviews Tennessee assessment items to ensure that they are aligned to the Tennessee academic standards, with targeted depth of knowledge, clarity, grade-level appropriateness, and instructional relevance.
    1. Applicants should be content experts currently teaching in the classroom for social studies.
    2. Applicants should be able to demonstrate their commitment to the Tennessee academic standards and their successful efforts toward teaching them in the classroom.
  2. Item Bias and Sensitivity Reviewer reviews Tennessee assessment items to ensure that they are all free from language or content that may negatively impact the test performance of a specific group of students due to its being culturally or regionally dependent or its potential to upset or otherwise distract some test takers.
    1. Applicants should be educators, but content background expertise is not required.
    2. Applicants should be able to demonstrate their commitment to the Tennessee academic standards and their commitment to diminishing the opportunity and achievement gaps for minority ethnicities, special needs populations, and English language learners.
    3. Extensive background or experience with a specific marginalized population appreciated.

Accommodations and Reimbursements

  1. Hotel accommodations for participants traveling greater than 50 miles one way to meeting location
  2. Per diem meal reimbursement provided for those staying on site
  3. Substitute teacher reimbursement provided if required
  4. Travel reimbursed
  5. Daily stipend of $100

Time Commitment

  1. Mandatory two-day training workshop Dec. 6–7 in Nashville, TN