The state’s largest teachers’ advocacy group is demanding a special hearing for legislators to look into this year’s delay in state standardized test results. The delay resulted in the test scores unexpectedly not counting toward thousands of students’ grades, causing confusion for school officials and anxiety amongst students, officials with the Tennessee Education Association said.

“It affected end of school activities, from report cards to graduations, and it resulted in extra stress and angst for students, teachers and principals,” said Carolyn Crowder, executive director of Tennessee Education Association. “If we’re going to place high stakes on test scores then it has to work. When it doesn’t, it affects students and teachers.”

On May 20, the Tennessee Department of Education announced state results for third through eighth graders would be delayed for 10-days due to efforts to narrow and eliminate focus areas not aligned to state standards.

Although the delay was ultimately cut by seven days, districts had to determine whether to wait to include student test scores in their final grades.  State law requires students’ final grades count 15 to 25 percent. Shelby County Schools was among roughly 100 districts in the state to receive a waiver to eliminate test scores from students’ final grades.

The TEA’s annual meeting, in which a vote on the request was made, was held May 31 and June 1 and drew hundreds of educators and delegates from across the state to conduct association business.

The agenda item read: “TEA Government Relations will call on friendly legislators to ask for special hearings about the problems with the quick score release and if through these hearings it is found the data is compromised then all of Tennessee’s teachers and students should not be held accountable for invalid data.  TEA will work with Tennessee legislators to waive accountability for all this year and to determine whether (Education) Commissioner (Kevin) Huffman’s resignation is warranted.”

Crowder was uncertain when the association’s government relations team would begin reaching out to legislators since the issue passed under new business, Crowder said.

“The fact that we passed the issue without any reservations, means we’ll be getting started as soon as possible,” said Crowder.

The state has apologized for the delay and has assured school districts that the test results are fair and accurate.

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

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