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Assessment Task Force

Third Assessment Task Force

In November 2017, Education Commissioner Candice McQueen announced the reconvening of a special Tennessee Task Force on Student Testing and Assessment to further study and identify best practices in testing at the school, district, and state level. Both previous iterations of the task force have developed recommendations to guide the work of the state, districts, and schools. Many of these recommendations are being implemented currently, including:

  • the reduction of state tests, including the elimination of the SAT-10, Explore, and Plan exams, and cutting the length of the third and fourth grade science and social studies TNReady tests
  • the timely release of assessment blue prints and practice test opportunities,
  • improved standards-level teacher reports and detailed family reports, and
  • the first statewide opportunity in the country for each high school senior to retake the ACT for free.

More information about the reconvened task force, including a list of task force members, is available here. Recordings of the meetings as well as copies of the presentations and resources that are discussed at each meeting will be posted on this page as soon as they are available.

Assessment Task Force 2.0

Commissioner Candice McQueen reconvened the Task Force on Student Testing and Assessment in order to continue the dialogue around creating intentional and streamlined assessments.

Membership of this reconvened assessment task force included several new participants, joining members from a broad spectrum of stakeholders representing educators, legislators, parents, school board members, students, and communities across the state. The group met throughout the summer and fall of 2016 to learn of the progress on prior recommendations, address items requiring further analysis from the first task force, review and assess tests implemented in the 2015-16 school year, and provide additional recommendations on testing.

The assessment task force also informed the state’s plan to transition to the Every Student Succeeds Act. Task force meetings included opportunities to give input on the new measures of school quality and student success and the A-F rating system, and they gave feedback on specific assessment- and accountability-related items as the department developed and finalized the ESSA plan for submission in April 2017. More information on Tennessee’s ESSA plan is available here.

Original Assessment Task Force Report

After six months of discussions and research, the Tennessee Task Force on Student Testing and Assessment, comprised of 18 educators and education leaders from across the state, released their report. The task force was formed by Commissioner McQueen in spring 2015 as a result of feedback from the field about the amount of testing, quality of testing, and associated test preparation. The task force conducted several surveys across the state to better understand how teachers, principals, and district leadership use assessment to make instructional decisions. The task force also examined the history of testing in Tennessee, the purpose for different type of assessments, and the information parents and teachers get from each type of assessment.

Based on this information, the task force developed a set of principles and recommendations to guide the work of the state, districts, and schools. The task force report contains 16 tangible recommendations to address concerns about too much testing and to ensure the meaningful use of assessments across the state. Recommendations include multiple strategies to help reduce unnecessary or redundant student tests, including at the state level:

  • Elimination of the kindergarten and first-grade annual standardized tests;
  • Elimination of the mandatory EXPLORE (8th grade) and PLAN (10th grade) tests;
  • Continued requirement of the ACT or SAT for 11th grade students, but not the adoption of ACT’s new alternative ASPIRE test or SAT’s companion test.

Tennessee students spend only 11-12 hours or one percent of the school year taking state-required TCAP assessments each year, but the task force concluded that many districts are utilizing and requiring a variety of additional benchmarks or formative assessments throughout the year to measure student progress.

View a complete list of task force members in the initial press release.

View the Assessment Task Force Report