The state Department of Education says the resignation of two testing division officials is “completely separate” from a mistake the department made in downgrading two school districts four years ago.
The director and assistant director of the DOE’s division that administers the student achievement tests known as TCAP resigned Friday. One of the officials worked for the department in 2007 when the state misinterpreted student test scores for Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools and Bedford County Schools, setting the wheels in motion for the districts to be taken over by the state under the federal No Child Left Behind education law, though the matter never reached that point.
“The departure of Dan Long and Stan Curtis had nothing to do with the 2007 calculation error, they are two completely separate issues,” spokesman Kelli Gauthier said in an email to TNReport.
Long directed the education department’s Assessment, Evaluation and Research Division. His annual salary was $82,752. Curtis, who started in 2010, was assistant director and made $81,000 a year.
Gauthier said No Child Left Behind standards were changed in 2007, allowing the state to dock a school district for failing to improve in either reading or math two years in a row, a benchmark called “adequate yearly progress” under the law. But before and after 2007, schools could only be flagged if they failed to make progress in successive years in the same subject area.
Metro schools, for example, missed the mark on reading test scores in 2006, improved in reading in 2007 but fell behind in math, and so the system was downgraded.
“Metro, along with Bedford County, kind of got caught in that weird interim period and got put on the list,” she said.
The Department of Education didn’t investigate or correct the record until this year, according to Gauthier, who said the state has since reset the school districts’ standing under No Child Left Behind.
The state is awaiting word from the U.S. Department of Education as to whether it can throw out the No Child Left Behind standards and measure its academic progress using state-created benchmarks instead.
Gauthier declined to comment on why the two officials left the department. Attempts to reach Long and Curtis for comment were unsuccessful. The state has launched a nationwide search for their replacements.