Education Commissioner Huffman and Governor Haslam released the state-level 2013-2014 TCAP scores this morning. We are not going to waste any time reviewing the scores here because 1) we don’t believe the test scores accurately reflect what a child truly knows, and 2) it appears that the DOE uses creative statistical analyses, subjective cut-score determinations, and lots of PR spin to make these scores be whatever they want them be.
But we would like to point out that, just this morning, Commissioner Huffman once again indicated that TCAP isn’t a good test for measuring student progress. According to Nashville Public Radio, Mr. Huffman told reporters, “I think there’s some level of a question of whether TCAP captures some of the work our teachers are doing in reading…” (Ummm…Mr. Huffman, just about a year ago you testified before the Senate Education Committee and, during your testimony, you admitted that the TCAP is not “strong”.) To top it off, the vice-president of the education
astro-turf “advocacy” group, SCORE, also told NPR the following: “‘What we would say is it’s not necessarily a complete assessment of what students are learning in the classroom,”…adding that the state needs a test that allows students to give written explanations to show what they really know.”
So, let’s get this straight: 35-50% of a teacher’s evaluation and 15-25% of a child’s grade are based on the results of a test that is not “strong”, nor “complete”. In what other universe is judging someone on a measurement that does not accurately measure what it’s supposed to measure OK?
Parents and teachers have been screaming for years that TCAP results do not fully reflect student or teacher skills. No one listened. Huffman essentially said the same thing almost a year ago. No one cared. And now, like a proverbial broken record, we are hearing the same old song from Huffman, but this time a member of SCORE is singing backup. On behalf of hundreds of thousands of Tennessee students, teachers, and parents, we are here to say that it’s time the DOE starts singing a couple new tunes: “Scrap the TCAP” and “YPBA” (aka “Yes Performance Based Assessment).
Our only viable hope at this juncture is that the legislature will intervene during the 2015 legislative session and try to bring some sanity to teacher and student evaluations. So, on that note, please research the candidates running for the House and Senate in your district–and vote for those who are against the use of TCAP scores in student grading and teacher evaluations. If we can get enough of them in the legislature, maybe we can finally stop the madness!