Overview of Testing in Tennessee

Tennessee Comprehensive Assessment Program (TCAP) has been the state’s testing program since 1988, and it includes TNReady assessments in math, English language arts, social studies, and science, as well as alternative assessments, like MSAA and TCAP-Alt, for students with special needs.

The following are assessments offered in Tennessee.

Required

TCAP for Grades 3–8

Overview:

Each subject-area test is divided into multiple subparts and will be administered during one testing window at the end of the school year.

  • English language arts (4 subparts) will assess the Tennessee Academic Standards through literary and informational texts requiring students to demonstrate the ability to read closely, analyze text, answer text-dependent questions, provide a written response to a prompt, and demonstrate command of the English language. Additionally, in grades 3 and 4, fluency, comprehension, and listening skills are measured.
  • Mathematics (3 subparts) will consist of both calculator permitted and calculator prohibited subparts. It assesses the Tennessee Academic Standards requiring students to demonstrate a deep conceptual understanding of mathematics, number sense, fluency, problem solving and an understanding of the grade-level horizontal coherence embedded within the standards. The mathematics test will focus approximately 70 percent of the assessment items on major work of the grade and approximately 30 percent of the items on supporting work.
  • Science (1 subpart in grades 3-4; 2 subparts in grades 5-8) will assess the current Tennessee Academic Standards requiring students to demonstrate a deep conceptual understanding of scientific concepts in Life Science, Earth and Space Science and Physical Science.
  • Social studies (1 subpart in grades 3-4; 2 subparts in grades 5-8) will assess the current Tennessee Academic Standards for social studies requiring students to demonstrate historical awareness, geographical understanding and the ability to analyze primary source documents.

Required:

Yes

Federal and State Law:

Administered in accordance with the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) of 2015 and T.C.A. § 49-1-602 pertaining to district and school accountability. Modified assessments in Braille and large print are also provided in accordance with the Every Student Succeeds Act of 2015 and Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) of 1990.

Purpose & Use:

The TCAP tests are designed to assess true student understanding and not just basic memorization and test-taking skills. TCAP measures student understanding of our state standards.

Administration Window:

Districts may select a more specific testing window within the state’s testing window of April 16 through May 4. However, English subpart 1, which includes a written response, must be administered in the first week.

Length of Assessment
Grade level English Math Science Social Studies
Grade 3 Subpart 1: 80 minutes
Subpart 2: 43 minutes
Subpart 3: 43 minutes
Subpart 4: 50 minutes
Total: 216 minutes
Subpart 1: 45 minutes
Subpart 2: 30 minutes
Subpart 3: 40 minutes
Total: 115 minutes
Subpart 1: 50 minutes
Total: 50 minutes
Subpart 1: 50 minutes
Total: 50 minutes
Grade 4 Subpart 1: 80 minutes
Subpart 2: 45 minutes
Subpart 3: 45 minutes
Subpart 4: 52 minutes
Total: 222 minutes
Subpart 1: 45 minutes
Subpart 2: 30 minutes
Subpart 3: 40 minutes
Total: 115 minutes
Subpart 1: 50 minutes
Total: 50 minutes
Subpart 1: 50 minutes
Total: 50 minutes
Grade 5 Subpart 1: 80 minutes
Subpart 2: 40 minutes
Subpart 3: 40 minutes
Subpart 4: 40 minutes
Total: 200 minutes
Subpart 1: 45 minutes
Subpart 2: 30 minutes
Subpart 3: 40 minutes
Total: 115 minutes
Subpart 1: 48 minutes
Subpart 2: 47 minutes
Total: 95 minutes
TBD
Grade 6 Subpart 1: 85 minutes
Subpart 2: 50 minutes
Subpart 3: 50 minutes
Subpart 4: 45 minutes
Total: 230 minutes
Subpart 1: 40 minutes
Subpart 2: 35 minutes
Subpart 3: 50 minutes
Total: 125 minutes
Subpart 1: 48 minutes
Subpart 2: 47 minutes
Total: 95 minutes
TBD
Grade 7 Subpart 1: 85 minutes
Subpart 2: 50 minutes
Subpart 3: 50 minutes
Subpart 4: 45 minutes
Total: 230 minutes
Subpart 1: 40 minutes
Subpart 2: 35 minutes
Subpart 3: 50 minutes
Total: 125 minutes
Subpart 1: 48 minutes
Subpart 2: 47 minutes
Total: 95 minutes
TBD
Grade 8 Subpart 1: 85 minutes
Subpart 2: 50 minutes
Subpart 3: 50 minutes
Subpart 4: 45 minutes
Total: 230 minutes
Subpart 1: 40 minutes
Subpart 2: 35 minutes
Subpart 3: 50 minutes
Total: 125 minutes
Subpart 1: 48 minutes
Subpart 2: 47 minutes
Total: 95 minutes
TBD

Results to Districts:

Raw data is provided to districts at the very end of school year. This information may be used to help calculate final grades for report cards. State law requires TCAP scores be included as a percentage of a student’s grade in grades 3–8. Districts do have the flexibility, as provided in state law, to exclude TNReady data from student grades if the data is not available at least five instructional days before the last day for students.

Results to Parents & Students:

Score reports from the 2016-17 school year for grades 3–8 will be provided to districts in fall 2017 to distribute to parents.

Score reports from the 2017-18 school year for grades 3–8 will be provided to districts in fall 2018 to distribute to parents.

TCAP End-of-Course Assessments

Overview:

Each subject-area test is divided into multiple subparts and will be administered during one testing window at the end of the course.

  • English I, English II, and English III (4 subparts) assess the Tennessee Academic Standards through literary and informational texts requiring students to demonstrate the ability to read closely, analyze text, answer text-dependent questions, provide a written response to a prompt, and demonstrate command of the English language.
  • Algebra I, Algebra II, Geometry, Integrated Math I, Integrated Math II and Integrated Math III (3 subparts) will consist of both calculator permitted and calculator prohibited subparts. Each assesses the Tennessee Academic Standards requiring students to demonstrate a deep conceptual understanding of mathematics, fluency, problem solving, and an understanding of the grade-level horizontal coherence embedded within the standards. The mathematics test will focus approximately 60 percent of the assessment items on major work of the grade and approximately 40 percent of the items on supporting work.
  • Biology and Chemistry will assess current Tennessee Academic Standards requiring students to demonstrate a deep understanding of scientific inquiry, engineering and technology as related to the scientific concepts in the course.
  • U.S. History and Geography (3 subparts) will consist of a written response item requiring students to provide a response to a prompt with the use of several sources as well as multiple choice and multiple select items. Students will be assessed on the current Tennessee Academic Standards and be required to demonstrate a deep understanding of civics, economics, geography within the context of U.S. History with special attention to Tennessee connections.

Required:

Yes

Federal and State Law:

Administered in accordance with the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) of 2015 and T.C.A. § 49-1-602 pertaining to district and school accountability. Modified assessments in Braille and large print are also provided in accordance with the Every Student Succeeds Act of 2015 and Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) of 1990.

Purpose & Use:

The TCAP tests are designed to assess true student understanding and not just basic memorization and test-taking skills. TCAP measures student understanding of our state standards. TCAP EOC assessments are given to help measure how much a student grows academically in a particular content area.

Administration Window:

Districts may select a more specific testing window within the state’s testing window of November 27 through December 15 for fall block schedule and April 16 through May 4 for spring block and traditional schedules. Subpart 1 of the English language arts and U.S. History/Geography assessments, which include written responses, must be administered the first week of the administration window.

Length of Assessment
Course Time

English I/II/III

Subpart 1: 85 minutes
Subpart 2: 50 minutes
Subpart 3: 50 minutes
Subpart 4: 45 minutes
Total: 230 minutes

Integrated Math I/II/III

Subpart 1: 35 minutes
Subpart 2: 50 minutes
Subpart 3: 60 minutes
Total: 145 minutes

Algebra I/II

Subpart 1: 35 minutes
Subpart 2: 50 minutes
Subpart 3: 60 minutes
Total: 145 minutes

Geometry

Subpart 1: 35 minutes
Subpart 2: 50 minutes
Subpart 3: 60 minutes
Total: 145 minutes

Biology

Subpart 1: 75 minutes
Total: 75 minutes

Chemistry

Subpart 1: 75 minutes
Total: 75 minutes

U.S. History

Subpart 1: 50 minutes
Subpart 2: 45 minutes
Subpart 3: 45 minutes
Total: 140 minutes

Results to Districts:

Raw data is provided to districts at the very end of school year (districts will receive fall block data at the very end of the first semester). This information may be used to help calculate final grades for report cards. State board policy requires TCAP scores be included as a percentage of a high school student’ end-of-course grades. Districts do have the flexibility, as provided in policy, to exclude TNReady data from student grades if the data is not available at least five instructional days before the last day for students.

Results to Parents & Students:

Score reports from the 2016-17 school year for EOC assessments will be provided to districts in fall 2017 to distribute to parents.

Score reports from the 2017-18 school year for EOC assessments will be provided to districts in fall 2018 to distribute to parents.

MSAA for Students with Disabilities

Overview:

The Multi-State Alternate Assessment (MSAA) is the English language arts and math assessment for students in grades 3–8 and grade 11 with the most significant cognitive disabilities. MSAA is administered online by the teacher.

Required:

Yes

Federal and State Law:

The development of alternate achievement standards for students with the most significant cognitive disabilities is authorized under a department regulation (34 C.F.R. Part 200) published on December 9, 2003, and T.C.A § 49-1-612. The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, and Title I require inclusion of all students with disabilities in the state assessment system.

Purpose & Use:

This test is given to help measure how much a student grows academically over the course of a school year.

Administration Window:

March 19–May 11 (Tentative)

Length of Assessment:

Students are given the assessment during class time throughout the window based on student needs and class schedules.

Results to Districts:

Districts receive individual performance reports which detail student performance in early summer.

Results to Parents & Students:

Districts can choose how and when to share these reports with parents.

TCAP-Alt for Students with Disabilities

Overview:

TCAP-Alt is the assessment for science and social studies for students with the most significant cognitive disabilities. Students are assessed in grades 3–8 for both science and social studies and in grade 10 for Biology. TCAP-Alt is administrated via paper by the teacher.

Required:

Yes

Federal and State Law:

The development of alternate achievement standards for students with the most significant cognitive disabilities is authorized under a department regulation (34 C.F.R. Part 200) published on December 9, 2003, and T.C.A § 49-1-612. The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, and Title I require inclusion of all students with disabilities in the state assessment system.

Purpose & Use:

This test is given to help measure how much a student grows academically over the course of a school year.

Administration Window:

March 19–May 11 (Tentative)

Length of Assessment:

Students are given the assessment during class time throughout the window based on student needs and class schedules.

Results to Districts:

Districts receive individual performance reports which detail student performance in early summer.

Results to Parents & Students:

Districts can choose how and when to share these reports with parents.

ACCESS for English Learners

Overview:

English Learners will take the ACCESS for ELLs to determine language proficiency. ACCESS assesses students in the four language domains: listening, speaking, reading, and writing.

Required:

Yes

Federal and State Law:

Administered in accordance with the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) of 2015.

Purpose & Use:

Administered to English Learners to evaluate English proficiency.

Administration Window:

March 5–April 20 (Tentative)

Length of Assessment:

The test is self-paced with target administration times for each section of the test as follows:

  • Listening: Up to 40 minutes
  • Reading: Up to 35 minutes
  • Speaking: Up to 30 minutes
  • Writing Tier A: Up to 45 minutes
  • Writing Tiers B/C: Up to 60 minutes

Results to Districts:

Districts receive individual performance reports which detail student performance in early summer.

Results to Parents & Students:

Districts can choose how and when to share these reports with parents.

ACT and SAT

Overview:

Students in Tennessee are required to take a college entrance exam (either the ACT or SAT) in the eleventh grade. This is now a graduation requirement for student seeking a regular or honors diploma. Districts in Tennessee contract with ACT to provide an opportunity to take the ACT at their own school during the school day at no cost to the student.

Required:

Yes

Federal and State Law:

Administered in accordance with T.C.A § 49-6-6001(b).

Purpose & Use:

Our vision for student success in Tennessee is that all students are equipped with the knowledge and skills to successfully embark on their chosen path in life. Empowering our students to pursue the education and training that matches their chosen career pathway is essential to this vision. In order to prepare our students with the knowledge and skills valued by both employers and postsecondary educators, the department has set two major strategic goals:

  • By 2020, the average composite score on the ACT (or equivalent on the SAT) will be a 21.
  • By 2020, the majority of high school graduates will be on track to receive a postsecondary degree or credential.

Administration Window:

ACT state testing dates

Paper testing: March 20, April 3, and April 24, 2018

Accommodations window: March 20-April 3, 2018

Online window: March 20-29, 2018 (Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday only)

SAT

Students may register to take the SAT on the following dates in 2017: August 26, October 7, November 4, and December 2.

Dates in 2018 include: March 10, May 5, and June 2.

Length of Assessment:

ACT:

English: 45 minutes

Math: 60 minutes

Reading: 35 minutes

Science: 35 minutes

SAT:

25-minute essay

Six 25-minute sections (mathematics, critical reading and writing)

Two 20-minute sections (mathematics, critical reading and writing)

10-minute multiple choice writing section

Results to Districts:

District receive ACT results 2-3 months after state testing is complete.

Results to Parents & Students:

ACT results are delivered to parents and students 3-8 weeks after the assessment. SAT results are delivered to parents and students

National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP)

Overview:

The National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) is the largest nationally representative and continuing assessment of what America's students know and can do in various subject areas. Assessments are conducted periodically in mathematics, reading, science, writing, the arts, civics, economics, geography, U.S. history, and in Technology and Engineering Literacy (TEL). In 2017, NAEP began administering digitally based assessments (DBA) for mathematics, reading, and writing, with additional subjects to be added in 2018 and 2019. Only a small sample of Tennessee fourth, eighth, and twelfth graders will take this test. The representative sample group is chosen by NAEP each year. NAEP alternates sample sizes every other year, with even-year assessments being a national sample, and odd-year assessments being state samples.

Required:

Yes, NAEP is required for fourth and eighth grade students at selected schools.

Federal and State Law:

Administered in accordance with the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) of 2015, which requires the state to participate in the biennial state academic assessments of fourth and eighth grade reading and mathematics. Districts that receive Title I funds are required to participate.

Purpose & Use:

NAEP assessments are administered uniformly using the same sets of test booklets across the nation, NAEP results serve as a common metric for all states and selected urban districts. The assessment stays essentially the same from year to year, with only carefully documented changes. This permits NAEP to provide a clear picture of student academic progress over time. In even-numbered years, NAEP measures Tennessee student’s academic achievement against students in other states also taking this test.

Administration Window:

January 29-March 9, 2018

Length of Assessment:

60–90 minutes

Results to Districts:

District-level results are not provided.

Results to Parents & Students:

Student-level results are not provided.

Optional

TCAP Grade 2 Optional Assessment

Overview:

The Grade 2 optional assessment measures student mastery of the Tennessee Academic Standards in English Language Arts and mathematics.

  • The English language arts (ELA) assessment uses an integrated format to measure student progress through literary and informational texts requiring students to demonstrate the ability to read closely, analyze text, answer text-dependent questions, provide a written response to a prompt, and demonstrate command of the English language. Additionally, it measures fluency, comprehension, and listening skills.
  • The mathematics assessment will focus approximately 70 percent of the assessment items on major work of the grade and approximately 30 percent of the items on supporting and additional work. Student mastery of math fluency, ability to problem solve, and understanding of the grade-level standards will be assessed. Further, students will be assessed on their ability to connect topics across the grade-level domains.

Required:

No

Federal and State Law:

Not applicable; participation is voluntary

Purpose & Use:

This test is given to help measure how much a second grade student grows academically over the course of a school year.

Administration Window:

April 23–May 4

Results to Districts:

Raw data is provided to districts by the very end of school year. This information may be used to help calculate final grades for report cards.

Results to Parents & Students:

Grade 2 assessment results from the 2016-17 school year will be released to parents and students in fall 2017.

Grade 2 assessment results from the 2017-18 school year will be released to parents and students in summer 2018.

TCAP Grade 2 Alternate Assessment for Students with Disabilities

Overview:

The TCAP Grade 2 Alternate assessment is the English language arts and math assessment for students in grade 2 with the most significant cognitive disabilities. The grade 2 Alternate assessment is administered via paper by the teacher.

Required:

No, however if a district opts to administer the TCAP grade 2 Alternate Assessment, they must also administer the grade 2 Alternate Assessment to eligible students.

Federal and State Law:

The development of alternate achievement standards for students with the most significant cognitive disabilities is authorized under a department regulation (34 C.F.R. Part 200) published on December 9, 2003, and T.C.A § 49-1-612. The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, and Title I require inclusion of all students with disabilities in the state assessment system.

Purpose & Use:

This test is given to help measure how much a student grows academically over the course of a school year.

Administration Window:

March 19–May 11

Length of Assessment:

Students are given the assessment during class time throughout the window based on student needs and class schedules.

Results to Districts:

Districts receive individual performance reports which detail student performance in early summer.

Results to Parents & Students:

Districts can choose how and when to share these reports with parents.

Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS)

Overview:

The Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) is a study of classrooms across the country and around the world. TIMSS provides trend data on students' mathematics and science achievement from an international perspective. TIMSS is administered every 4 years.

Required:

No

Federal and State Law:

Not applicable; participation is voluntary

Purpose & Use:

Through participation in TIMSS, the United States has gained reliable and timely data on the mathematics and science achievement of our students compared to that of students in other countries.

Administration Window:

March-April 2018

Length of Assessment:

60–90 minutes

Results to Districts:

District-level results are not provided.

Results to Parents & Students:

Student-level results are not provided.

International Computer and Information Literacy Study (ICILS)

Overview:

The International Computer and Information Literacy Study (ICILS) is an international assessment and research project designed to measure trends in computer and information literacy at the eighth-grade level as well as school and teacher practices related to instruction.

Required:

No

Federal and State Law:

Not applicable; participation is voluntary

Purpose & Use:

ICILS provides an opportunity to compare US student skills and experience using technology with that of their peers in other nations, and provides data on factors that may be associated with student computer and information literacy skills.

Administration Window:

March-May 2018

Length of Assessment:

60–90 minutes

Results to Districts:

District-level results are not provided.

Results to Parents & Students:

Student-level results are not provided.

Program for International Student Assessment (PISA)

Overview:

The Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) is an international assessment that measures 15-year-old students' reading, mathematics, and science literacy every three years.

Required:

No

Federal and State Law:

Not applicable; participation is voluntary

Purpose & Use:

PISA rotates between reading, mathematics, and science in each cycle. PISA also includes measures of general or cross-curricular competencies, such as collaborative problem solving. By design, PISA emphasizes functional skills that students have acquired as they near the end of compulsory schooling.

Administration Window:

PISA will not be administered in 2017-2018

Length of Assessment:

2 hours

Results to Districts:

District-level results are not provided.

Results to Parents & Students:

Student-level results are not provided.

Operational Testing vs. Field Testing

The majority of tests are operational. This means that the test is officially scored, and results will be shared with districts, schools, teachers, and students. Some tests, however, are field tests. This means that the test isn't officially scored and reported; rather, it provides valuable information to the department of education in order to inform future test development.

Sometimes students take stand-alone field tests where the entire test would not be officially scored and reported but would instead be used to help the department design future tests.  In most cases, field test questions are included within operational tests. In this scenario, a student would not know which question was a field test question and which questions was an operational test question. Student responses to the field test questions would not "count" toward a student's score on the test, but their responses would help the department of education design future test questions.  Field tests strengthen future operational tests by ensuring each question measures what our students should know and can do.