Shelby County Schools’ third through eighth grade students’ final grades this year will not factor in their performance on the state tests they took in April.

The Tennessee Department of Education notified all school systems in the state on Tuesday that there would be a delay in the receipt of Tennessee Comprehensive Assessment Program, or TCAP, scores for students in core subject areas in the third through eighth grades.  State officials said the reason for the delay was due to efforts to narrow and eliminate focus areas not aligned to state standards.

“We recognize that delaying quick score release has an impact on finalizing student grades and report cards, and apologize for the inconvenience for you and your teams,” said Erin O’Hara in a letter to district officials.  O’Hara is the assistant commissioner of data and research.  “Given the delay, districts can either choose to delay the release of final grades until after the state releases quick scores or districts can finalize student grades without the quick score included and revise grades as appropriate once quick scores are available.”

In 2012, a state law went into effect that required students’ state test scores to count between 15  to 25  percent of their final grades. The rationale behind the decision was to increase student accountability since teacher evaluations would include student growth scores (value-added) and achievement scores. 

Shelby County, along with several other school districts in the state, applied for a waiver from the state law to allow student grades to be finalized without state test scores.   Other districts in the state are opting to wait on the state to release TCAP scores, which could take 10 days.  The result will be in those districts that students will receive their report cards later than usual.

“This delay is unacceptable and further illustrates the many consequences of making a one-time standardized test the be-all, end-all for our students and teachers,” Gera Summerford, Tennessee Education Association president and Sevier County math teacher said in a statement. “School districts being unable to calculate final grades creates a domino effect of problems for everyone from the local director of schools right down to the students.”

Other districts seeking the waiver include Murfreesboro, Sumner County, Knox County and Metro Nashville, according to The Tennessean.

Contact Tajuana Cheshier at tcheshier@chalkbeat.org and (901) 730-4013.

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