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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 Standards Setting Committees

The department is seeking applications from educators, higher education partners, parents, and community members to participate in subject and grade-level committees to determine the cut score ranges for each performance level on state assessments. Ultimately, this information helps us understand students' level of mastery of the state standards. This is called the “standards setting" process. The standards setting committees will meet this summer and share recommendations with the State Board of Education for approval. 

We are seeking applicants for the following standards setting committees:

Grade 2

  • Math
  • ELA


  • Math Grades 3-8
  • ELA Grades 3-8

TCAP-Alternate Assessment

  • Math Grade 2
  • ELA Grade 2
  • Social Studies Grades 3-8
  • Science Grades 3-8
  • High School Biology

All interested applicants should complete an online application by clicking on the following links: TN Ready Assessment Standard Setting applicationTCAP-Alternate Assessment Standard Setting application. The application window opened today and will close on Wednesday April 5. All applicants will be notified of their status no later than May 5.

Standard Setting for TNReady assessments will meet the week of July 10.  Standard Setting for the TCAP-Alternate assessment will meet the week of July 17.  Exact dates and times will be communicated to participants as they are selected.  

For any questions, please contact Christina.Fox@tn.gov.