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TNReady, end-of-course exams won't count toward Kingsport students' grades

Rick Wagner • May 17, 2017 at 9:45 AM

KINGSPORT — In what Kingsport school officials said they hope doesn’t become a long-term trend, the school board Tuesday night again voted to give the superintendent authority to waive a policy requiring that TNReady and end-of-course exams count toward students’ final grades this school year.

The reason for the three-time Board of Education action, also taken for the past two school years, is that the test results are not yet available and won’t be until at least next week. In contrast, the last day of school in Kingsport City Schools is a half-day Thursday, and the Dobyns-Bennett High School graduation is Saturday.

The vote was 4-0 with one, Todd Golden, absent. President Eric Hyche, Vice President Susan Lodal and members Carrie Upshaw and Karen Reed-Wright voted for the measure. Ironically, that was the same voting margin the board had for the first reading of a new state-mandated grading policy approved by the General Assembly back in April and effective for the 2017-18 school year. 

“It’s disappointing that has happened again,” Lodal said during the called meeting.

Last year, the state suffered a meltdown of a vendor’s online testing and results were delayed, but school officials said this year’s issues with a new vendor are delayed results, not catastrophic failure. Superintendent Lyle Ailshie said the system still plans to count student grades as part of teacher evaluations but will need the data soon to do payroll changes for next school year. 

The current KCS policy is that TCAPs in grades 3-8 count 15 percent of student grades and high school end-of-course tests count 25 percent. However, under the policy change, the test scores would be factored into student grades in both 3-8 and 9-12 as follows: 10 percent for 2016-17, a moot point with the board’s vote not to count test scores that don’t yet exist, 15 percent in 2017-18 and 15 to 25 percent for 2018-19 and beyond.

High school grades could be 25 percent standardized test results by 2018-19 and grades 3-8 somewhere from 15 to 25 percent. Board members said they wanted input from elementary and middle school principals before approving the change on second and final reading at its June 20 meeting.

Upshaw asked what would happen if test scores continue to be late and/or future forced online testing affected test schools. In that case, Lodal said the board simply could change its policy. Michael Hubbard, director of performance excellence, and Assistant Superintendent of Instruction Carmen Bryant addressed the issue, with Hubbard saying the state may never offer online tests in grades 3-4, made online tests optional for grades 5-8 in 2017-18 and is implementing online tests in grades 9-12 for 2017-18.

Hubbard said students are getting “more and more opportunities” for online testing in all grades. However, he said the testing vendor has not scanned in any of Kingsport’s TNReady or end-of-course tests and that none would be available, even in raw score format the school system could have evaluated, until at least next week. He said the system used the first two weeks of a three-week testing window and doubts being any earlier would have sped up results.

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