TDOE Announces Innovative Assessment Supports for 2020-21

Friday, June 05, 2020 | 03:56pm

Friday, June 5, 2020  

MEDIA CONTACT: Victoria Robinson  


TDOE Announces Innovative Assessment Supports for 2020-21

Free, optional, high-quality assessment tools will support schools and districts in identifying and addressing student needs early in the school year


Nashville, TN—Today, the Tennessee Department of Education announced a suite of free, optional assessment supports for the 2020-21 school year, which will be available to all districts this fall. These supports are part of the department’s innovative assessment initiative as described in the Best for All strategic plan. 

With many students missing academic instructional time, and canceled spring assessments due to COVID-19 school building closures, it is critical that educators and schools can identify student progress early and receive actionable data for the upcoming year. 

"As part of the department’s Best for All strategic plan, we have been working to develop a suite of free and optional innovative assessment supports to empower our educators with better, earlier insights into student progress,” said Commissioner Penny Schwinn. “When the COVID-19 pandemic forced prolonged school building closures and canceled spring assessments, it became even more important that districts and schools can reliably gather student data and understand student readiness for the next school year. These free and optional tools are one more way the department can support the needs of our district partners in serving all students.”

All Tennessee districts and schools can request these optional tools at no charge. Directors will receive more information on requesting these resources later this summer. Each of these free, optional assessments may be administered in the mode most convenient for the educators, via paper and online, increasing flexibility for districts.

“I am really pleased that the department has taken the initiative in providing the necessary assessment tools at no cost to school districts. This has been a critical missing component for so many school districts as we have all navigated a new, if not uncertain accountability landscape,” said Dr. Donna Wright, Director of Wilson County Schools. “Equitable access to a standards-aligned assessment tool will be the difference maker for many school districts in identifying and charting student progress.  Educators will benefit from the flexibility in the use of these innovative assessment tools, but the greater benefit will ultimately be for our students.”   

The three optional tools available to districts for free later this year will be a Start of the Year Checkpoint, an Online Formative Assessment Platform and TCAP Item Bank, and Full-length “Mock” Interim Assessments. 

Start of the Year Checkpoint:  

  • A suite of optional assessments will be developed from actual TCAP items and aligned to the previous grade/course standards that are most essential for progression in the content of the student’s current grade level/course. They will be available for grades 3-8 and end of course (EOC) in Math and English Language Arts (ELA).
  • The start of the year checkpoints are intended to benefit districts looking for information on student performance at the beginning of the year and help inform educators about student readiness for the year ahead. 

Online Formative Assessment Platform and TCAP Item Bank: 

  • This platform will provide a central location for all TCAP materials, allowing educators to create their own assessments, using Tennessee standards-aligned questions developed expressly for TCAP. It will allow for the creation and administration of these assessments via a printable PDF or an online testing experience. Online testing will also provide automatic grading and reporting capabilities with the same look and feel of actual TCAP online testing. 
  • The department created this platform based on feedback and requests from Tennessee teachers desiring a free, optional assessment platform that will house formative assessments, start of year checkpoints, and currently released TCAP items.  The platform will launch early fall and provide teachers with easy access all year round to these resources to print, use and share.

Full-length “Mock” Interim Assessment:  

  • Mock Interim Assessments will be complete blueprint-aligned assessments that will mirror the current TCAP summative assessments, as well as provide accurate scaled scores and performance bands that would estimate each student’s performance. 
  • Yielding much better information for educators than a practice exam, these assessments are scheduled to be available for optional administration to students as a mid-year or spring checkpoint. To support instruction, each item will be released with full item analysis to assist educators in pinpointing student misconceptions within standards to support efficient re-teaching, review, or remediation.

More details on each of these resources are available in the department’s one-pager. The tools in this suite of resources work together to benefit districts looking to identify student progress during this upcoming school year. When creating these tools, the department worked to ensure that these supports were flexible, aligned to our TN standards, and would provide actionable data for schools and districts.  

For additional information on the department’s COVID-19 related resources, please visit For Tennessee Department of Education media inquiries, contact