Tennessee cuts two high school exams in English, chemistry
- In an effort to reduce the testing burden on students and teachers, Tennessee is eliminating its TNReady high school chemistry and English III assessments largely taken by 11th-graders, the Tennesseean reports.
- The eliminations followed two votes by Tennessee Education Commissioner Candice McQueen's 30-member assessment taskforce, with the English III decision reportedly being the most contentious, but McQueen says the move doesn't reduce the importance of those subjects.
- TNReady assessments have had a troubled history overall, with testing in grades 3-8 canceled in spring 2016, a small number of high school exams being incorrectly graded in the 2016-17 school year, and ongoing questions from parents about the amount of time students spend on exams.
The federal Every Student Succeeds Act, passed in late 2015 and now being implemented nationwide, allows more flexibility on standardized assessment — largely in response to concerns about the amount of time spent on preparation for mandated high-stakes standardized exams at the expense of a well-rounded education. Tennessee's efforts to eliminate exams and reduce that burden on educators and students alike is in line with that intent.
As Jason Parker, a data specialist with the Tennessee Department of Education, tweeted, the move allows high school juniors a chance to put more attention toward college entrance exams and applying to schools in general.
Reducing testing in the junior year makes a lot of sense. Students can focus more time and energy on the ACT/SAT and getting ready to apply to #highered. Hope schools will use this change to focus on college and career readiness. https://t.co/1TAOI4bW9D— Jason Parker (@jasonparker83) April 9, 2018
Amid testing reductions, however, schools still walk a line in how they demonstrate accountability under federal standards. For a look at how a handful of states approved last fall are doing that, check out our entry for ESSA from the 2017 Dive Awards.
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