TCAP scores are ready after all, state says

A delay on releasing end-of-year state test scores turned out a week shorter than expected, but the scores still may not affect final grades of students in more than 100 school systems.

The Tennessee Department of Education, in a letter to school superintendents, announced this afternoon that it will be releasing scores from the Tennessee Comprehensive Assessment Program later today after "external experts" signed off on the validity and accuracy of the results seven days earlier than the state had anticipated.

Nevertheless, a spokeswoman confirmed that approval still stands of waiver requests submitted this week by districts that want to exempt students from a four-year-old state requirement that TCAP scores account for 15 percent to 25 percent of students' final grades.

As of Friday, 104 school districts have been granted an exemption from a law designed to make TCAP testing more meaningful for students.

The release of the scores comes after the Department of Education was roundly criticized when it alerted Tennessee's 140 local school districts at the last minute Tuesday that TCAP scores wouldn't be ready in time to go on final report cards for many of them.

Because of moves to eliminate portions of TCAP tests not aligned with Common Core standards, state officials had said they needed 10 more days to thoroughly review the assessment to make sure it was comparable to previous' years exams.

That process finished on time for high school exams, but not the TCAP, which is taken by students in grades 3-8.

"While we had anticipated it might take longer for their review, the review is complete and we want to put them in your hands as quickly as possible," Erin O'Hara, assistant commissioner for data and research, wrote to schools directors today.

"I have had conversations with many of you over the last three days, and want to thank you for your willingness to pick up the phone and engage directly and honestly. As I have tried to convey, our objective has been and will be to ensure accuracy of results precisely because we know how important the results are to your staff and students."


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