Recent TCAP scores called 'shocking'

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Scores for statewide tests recently taken by elementary and middle school students were released this month, causing dismay among school board members last week.

"We have a crisis," exclaimed board member Barbara Kennedy as she studied a chart comparing scores on the Tennessee Comprehensive Assessment Program (TCAP) tests.

Schools Director Roy Dukes agreed.

"It's shocking," Dukes said, pointing out that the test was more difficult. "Some areas are good, but others need work. We need to work with the 3rd and 4th graders."

No single grade or single school was deficient in all areas. Some made notable gains, like the Cornersville Elementary 4th graders that went from 30 to 46 percent proficient in reading and language arts, and the Oak Grove 6th graders that went from 49 to 63 percent proficient in reading and language arts.

Not so pleasing was the decline in Oak Grove 3rd graders' percentage proficient in reading and language arts from 48 to 33, or MES 4th graders that went from 44 to 27.

"We need to get a presentation from Miss Gooch (supervisor of elementary instruction) of what they're going to do," Kennedy said.

"It would be nice to have a collaborative meeting with principals," she added. "We would welcome their collective wisdom."

Board Chairman Mike Keny agreed.

"I would like us to get together and brainstorm," said Keny, as Dukes offered a solution.

"We need to think of ways to get the parents involved," Dukes said offering a step in that direction.

On Opening Day for the teachers, Aug. 1, a speaker is to be coming from the Model Schools conference, which emphasized parental involvement as one of the keys to students' success.

Compared to surrounding counties, Marshall was on a par with Bedford and Maury in reading; was outscored by Bedford, but way ahead of Maury in math; and, was ahead of both Maury and Bedford in science and social studies. Giles County was one of the lowest scoring in the mid-state, while Williamson was easily the highest, outscoring other counties by 30 percentage points or more.

The state is aiming for 100 percent of students to be proficient or advance in math and reading by 2014, but according to The Daily Herald in Columbia, Gov. Bill Haslam "estimated that 80 percent of schools are projected not to comply with that ... deadline."

According to state law, a student's TCAP score now counts toward their final spring semester grade, and teachers' evaluations will be partially based on students' TCAP performance.