Lenoir City Schools News Update

March 1, 2016

Governor's Flexibility Option

Legislators are working to update the teacher evaluation law by adding a caption bill to an existing bill that will incorporate Governor Haslam's proposed Flexibility option to allow teacher to choose to include or not to include student results from 2015-2016 TN Ready data in their evaluation score. Below are the options in diagrams that will illustrate the options:
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TNReady - Paper and pencil testing

Thank you to all of our testing coordinators at each of the schools, our teachers, and our administrators who have changed schedules, changed processes, and changed focus as we give Part I of the TNReady test to grades 3-8. High school EOC tests will follow soon.

I realize the overwhelming issues that the change to paper/pencil has caused. Let me share with you how this decision was rolled out from the Commissioner's office. During the first week of February, the Commissioner's office announced that the online testing protocol would not work on Ipads. So, the districts who had purchased Ipads were informed that they could choose paper/pencil tests. This information was shared statewide during the second week of February, and a survey was sent out to Directors of Schools to see if their district would also like to take the test via paper/pencil. With only a few hours to responde, I consulted our administrators and some teachers. Initially, I thought our third graders would like to have the option, but the teachers and students indicated that they had been learning online all year and would like to be tested in the way they had been learning. Ninety-seven percent of all school districts in Tennessee responded that they would like to stay the course - online testing.

During the third week of February, online testing began in many districts. Almost immediately the server load and technical issues affected the testing process. The Commissioner immediately stopped the testing and announced that all districts would use paper/pencil tests this year. The information I received was that there is a third-party vendor that was managing the testing traffic, and it failed. So, therefore, we are in the situation of changing to paper/pencil testing. Each test has its own answer booklet -- this is very different from the scantron forms that students and teachers are used to seeing.

With all of these changes, it is appropriate that there be flexibility in the use of the results of these tests. We can still use them for some instructional decision making for students, but the results will not be binding for any teacher or student. As with the Governor's proposal, if the results benefit any teacher or student, then the option to use the result as a score is available. It is important to use these tests to learn more about how to help students meet the expectations of the new standards. So, I encourage us to each to take this time to learn as much as we can about how to fill in the learning gaps that students have during this time of lower-stakes testing.

Accountability for school-level and district-level reporting is still in effect as of today. I will work to see if we can get some flexibility as well in those areas. Once again, I thank all of you for keeping the focus on students and their learning as we manage change.