To improve academic achievement for students, Tennessee took an important step by raising expectations in the classroom. To be sure that students are learning more, Tennessee is entering a new era of measuring student learning. This spring, students across the state are taking Tennessee Comprehensive Assessment Program (TCAP) exams in math and English language arts for the last time. Next year, Tennessee will shift to a new assessment that goes beyond multiple choice to measure learning in multiple ways and is designed to work with the standards used in the classroom. Tennessee educators have been eager to take this step so they have more and better information about how to help all students learn.
Tennessee will introduce the new English language arts and math assessments, called TNReady, during the 2015-16 school year, and it will be important to ensure that these new assessments provide teachers, parents, school and district leaders, and policymakers the information they need to support improved instruction and student learning. High-quality assessments should help students and their parents measure their progress on standards, offer accurate measurement of the skills that are needed for postsecondary education and the workforce, and guide the instruction of teachers.
To support the implementation of TNReady, SCORE has published a new policy memo, Meaningful Measures of Student Learning: Improving Assessment in Tennessee, examining the impact that high-quality, aligned assessments could have on education in Tennessee. The report outlines the history of standards and assessments in Tennessee and across the nation; explains the positive impact that a high-quality assessment will have on students, parents, and educators; and provides an overview of the quality of assessments implemented since 2001. Most importantly, the report establishes evidence-based criteria that can be used to ensure Tennessee has the best possible student assessment.
As the report says, “To have an assessment that encompasses all of the criteria is a goal to continually strive toward, but one that may take several years to accomplish.”
As Tennessee begins implementing the TNReady assessment, it’s important to commit to ensuring that it produces high-quality data that accurately reflect student learning and guide decisions that yield improved outcomes for all students. Our students get only one shot at a great education, so it is imperative that we work together to make TNReady a success for students and teachers.
Very truly yours,