TCAP Scores Hint at Statewide Education Improvements

Gov. Bill Haslam and his Education Department chief, Kevin Huffman, on Thursday lauded the latest Tennessee Comprehensive Assessment Program results showing students improving in key areas of educational achievement.

According to early results from TCAP, Tennessee students in grades 3-8 improved in math and reading by 7 percent and 3.7 percent respectively over last year.

“The growth trends were pretty consistent across the state,” Huffman told reporters after a brief ceremony at Murfreesboro’s Northfield Elementary School honoring teachers who’d seen significant improvements in their classrooms.

Murfreesboro City Schools’ was one of 18 Tennessee districts that posted a 20 percent or better test-score improvement in math and reading.

Detailed district-by-district results are expected to be released today, Huffman said.

“We’re all at the state level incredibly proud of Tennessee teachers, for the hard work that they have put in,” said Huffman. “When standards were raised two years ago, I think it was a hard pill for teachers to swallow — because across the state many kids who had been deemed proficient suddenly were told (they) weren’t proficient anymore under these new higher standards. It would have been easy to complain about it or not embrace it, and instead what people did was they doubled-down and worked harder and did incredible work in the classroom to drive results higher.”

“We owe our teachers a serious debt of gratitude for their hard work over the past year getting these results,” he said.

Huffman said state officials will analyze the results carefully to look for trends and indications of what has and has not been working in classrooms across Tennessee.

The governor applauded teachers’ efforts as well — however, he noted that Tennessee needs to continue improving significantly both to meet federal “No Child Left Behind” standards and ultimately to make Tennessee the “number one state in the Southeast for high-quality jobs.”

“We’re not at all satisfied with where we are at. But when you make a significant gain like 7 percent in math, you want to recognize it,” Haslam said.

Haslam earlier this week indicated he’d like Tennessee to receive a “waiver” from Washington’s “No Child Left Behind” mandates. The governor suggested he isn’t advocating lowering academic standards, but rather wants the states to “grade themselves” on whether their students are meeting educational objectives.

“With 80 percent of the schools projected to not be in compliance (with NCLB), we need to have some way to react to that, rather than to just say every school is not meeting the criteria,” Haslam said Thursday. “We are having ongoing discussion…not to lower standards, but to say within the world of ‘No Child Left Behind’ — if it stays in effect — how are we going to operate without just saying no school is meeting it. If nobody is meeting the criteria at all, the criteria is not going to mean anything.”

U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan has suggested 82 percent of schools across the country are in danger of “failing” under “No Child Left Behind.”

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