Tennessee

Shelby County Schools report cards will not count TCAP, despite earlier-than-expected release of TCAP scores

Shelby County Schools students’ scores on state tests still won’t be factored into their final grades although the state has released the scores earlier than the initial 10-day delay it announced last Tuesday.

District spokeswoman Stefani Everson said the state release of student test scores did not change the district’s plan.  Shelby County Schools filed for a waiver from the state law, which requires that Tennessee Comprehensive Assessment Program, or TCAP, tests count 15 to 25 percent of a students’ final grade.   The waiver allowed the district to process students’ final grades without factoring in how well they performed in their language arts, math, social studies and science state tests, which are given annually.

Superintendent Dorsey Hopson II said  Tuesday night there wasn’t enough time to include TCAP scores in student report cards. 

“We needed to get grades out on Friday,” Hopson said.  Shelby County School students performance on TCAP counts 15 percent of their final grade in language arts, math, science and social studies.

Although the TCAP scores won’t affect Shelby County School students, value-added scores will still factor into teacher evaluations.

“There’s always going to be a flaw in something,” said Hopson about the accountability changes for students this year.

The delay affected the state’s third through eighth grade students, who took the state tests in late April.

State officials said the reason for the delay was due to efforts to narrow and eliminate focus areas not aligned to state standards.

As of Friday, 104 school districts had been granted exemptions from the four-year-old law designed to make TCAP testing more meaningful to students, according to an article by The Tennessean.

Now that the scores are released,  some districts could decide to relinquish their waivers in order to include the results in students’ grades.

“While we had anticipated it might take longer for their review, the review is complete and we want to put them in your hands as quickly as possible,” said Erin O’Hara in a letter to district officials on Friday.  O’Hara is the assistant commissioner of data and research.  “We know that the delay of several days caused some significant operational and planning challenges for you, and while the opportunity to receive a waiver from the state helped, it did not fully mitigate the challenges you faced. I am sorry that the delay put you in this position. We are relieved that the post-equating process, led and verified by outside experts, showed that the tests are fair, accurate and comparable to previous years.”

In 2012, a state law went into effect that required students’ state test scores to count between 15  to 25  percent of their final grades. The rationale behind the decision was to increase student accountability since teacher evaluations would include student growth scores (value-added) and achievement scores.

Shelby County, along with several other school districts in the state, applied for a waiver from the state law to allow student grades to be finalized without state test scores.   Other districts in the state are opting to wait on the state to release TCAP scores, which could take 10 days.  The result will be in those districts that students will receive their report cards later than usual.

“This delay is unacceptable and further illustrates the many consequences of making a one-time standardized test the be-all, end-all for our students and teachers,” Gera Summerford, Tennessee Education Association president and Sevier County math teacher said in a statement. “School districts being unable to calculate final grades creates a domino effect of problems for everyone from the local director of schools right down to the students.”

Other districts seeking the waiver include Murfreesboro, Sumner County, Knox County and Metro Nashville, according to The Tennessean.

Contact Tajuana Cheshier at tcheshier@chalkbeat.org and (901) 730-4013.

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What's Your Education Story?

As the 2018 school year begins, join us for storytelling from Indianapolis educators

PHOTO: Dylan Peers McCoy/Chalkbeat
Sarah TeKolste, right, and Lori Jenkins at a Teacher Story Slam, in April.

In partnership with Teachers Lounge Indy, Chalkbeat is hosting another teacher story slam this fall featuring educators from across the city.

Over the past couple of years, Chalkbeat has brought readers personal stories from teachers and students through the events. Some of our favorites touched on how a teacher won the trust of her most skeptical student, why another teacher decided to come out to his students, and one educator’s call to ramp up the number of students pursuing a college education.

The event, 5:30 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 13, is free and open to the public — please RSVP here.

Event details:

5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.
Thursday, Sept. 13, 2018
Tube Factory artspace
1125 Cruft St., Indianapolis, IN 46203
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More in What's Your Education Story?

School safety

Hiring more security officers in Memphis after school shootings could have unintended consequences

PHOTO: Jahi Chikwendiu/The Washington Post/Getty Images

Tennessee’s largest district, Shelby County Schools, is slated to add more school resource officers under the proposed budget for next school year.

Superintendent Dorsey Hopson earmarked $2 million to hire 30 school resource officers in addition to the 98 already in some of its 150-plus schools. The school board is scheduled to vote on the budget Tuesday.

But an increase in law enforcement officers could have unintended consequences.

A new state law that bans local governments from refusing to cooperate with federal immigration officials could put school resource officers in an awkward position.

Tennessee Education Commissioner Candice McQueen recently reminded school personnel they are not obligated to release student information regarding immigration status. School resource officers employed by police or sheriff’s departments, however, do not answer to school districts. Shelby County Schools is still reviewing the law, but school board members have previously gone on the record emphasizing their commitment to protecting undocumented students.

“Right now we are just trying to get a better understanding of the law and the impact that it may have,” said Natalia Powers, a district spokeswoman.

Also, incidents of excessive force and racial bias toward black students have cropped up in recent years. Two white Memphis officers were fired in 2013 after hitting a black student and wrestling her to the ground because she was “yelling and cussing” on school grounds. And mothers of four elementary school students recently filed a lawsuit against a Murfreesboro officer who arrested them at school in 2016 for failing to break up a fight that occurred off-campus.

Just how common those incidents are in Memphis is unclear. In response to Chalkbeat’s query for the number and type of complaints in the last two school years, Shelby County Schools said it “does not have any documents responsive to this request.”

Currently, 38 school resource officers are sheriff’s deputies, and the rest are security officers hired by Shelby County Schools. The officers respond and work to prevent criminal activity in all high schools and middle schools, Hopson said. The 30 additional officers would augment staffing at some schools and for the first time, branch out to some elementary schools. Hopson said those decisions will be based on crime rates in surrounding neighborhoods and school incidents.

Hopson’s initial recommendation for more school resource officers was in response to the school shooting in Parkland, Florida, that killed 17 people and sparked a wave of student activism on school safety, including in Memphis.

Gov. Bill Haslam’s recent $30 million budget boost would allow school districts across Tennessee to hire more law enforcement officers or improve building security. Measures to arm some teachers with guns or outlaw certain types of guns have fallen flat.


For more on the role and history of school resource officers in Tennessee, read our five things to know.


Sheriff’s deputies and district security officers meet weekly, said Capt. Dallas Lavergne of the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office. When the Memphis Police Department pulled their officers out of school buildings following the merger of city and county school systems, the county Sheriff’s Office replaced them with deputies.

All deputy recruits go through school resource officer training, and those who are assigned to schools get additional annual training. In a 2013 review of police academies across the nation, Tennessee was cited as the only state that had specific training for officers deployed to schools.