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Hawkins BOE considers adding $58K TN Ready pretesting to 2018-19 budget

Jeff Bobo • Mar 16, 2018 at 3:45 PM

ROGERSVILLE — The Hawkins County Board of Education might adopt the same TN Ready state testing pretests currently being used by high achieving school districts like Maryville, Oak Ridge and Germantown.

BOE Chairman Bob Larkins noted, however, that it’s an expensive program and might prompt parents to begin asking if their children are being tested too much.

Last week the BOE’s Budget Committee agreed to insert the $58,738 cost of the CASE (Collaborative Assessment Solutions for Educators) Benchmark Assessments into the proposed 2018-19 budget.

Aren’t Hawkins schools already doing TN Ready pretest assessments?

Assessments are currently being created by teachers for their specific classroom, but nothing uniform district wide.

In 2014-15 when the Hawkins County school system was recognized as an exemplary district by the state, it used an early assessment testing program called Global Scholars.

That program involved three tests annually and helped teachers assess student mastery of the state test standards.

When the state testing standards changed, Global Scholars became obsolete, and this year the state released a replacement pretest called CAP Classroom Assessment Program.

Why choose CASE over the state program?

Director of Schools Steve Starnes told the BOE during its March 8 Budget Committee meeting that CAP is used by teachers as a more formative assessment than an interim summary assessment and it doesn’t meet Hawkins County’s needs.

Starnes said the CASE assessment more closely resembles the questions students will see in the TN Ready state testing in mid April.

CASE also returns data to teachers within 72 hours so they can begin addressing newly discovered deficiencies immediately.

Does CASE have a proven track record?

“When you look at Maryville, Oak Ridge and Germantown, Germantown is probably the highest performing school system in the state, and we all know very well about Maryville and Oak Ridge,” Starnes said. “Germantown was able to have about 97 percent predictability using this benchmark assessment how their students would score on the state test.”

The CASE assessments would be give to students in grades 3-8 at the first of November and again in late February, which would give teachers time to address low scoring areas before students take the TN Ready tests the second week in April.

High school students would also receive a CASE assessment in advance of each of their nine annual EOC (end of course) assessments.

Is that too much testing?

“One of the things we as board members hear is that we’re testing our kids too much,” Larkins said. “Another thing we hear is we’re teaching to the test.”

Starnes noted, “When we get a state assessment every spring, our students are measured by that test; our schools are measured by that test. We’re saying we’ve identified the standards we’re working toward and we want students to master those. ... This test makes sure we’re on course toward proficiency and mastery of the state standard.”

Other 2018-19 budget recommendations, the BOE’s Budget Committee:

* Agreed to include the purchase of three maintenance vans for about $20,000 each, one mower for about $12,000, a “water jetter” for $10,000 and water jetter camera for about $5,000. The jetter and camera are what Roto-Rooter uses to clear clogged sewer pipes, tiles and air ducts, and officials estimate the cost of the jetter would be recouped in 3-4 years.

* Agreed to budget the salary of two athletic trainers to be paid as 12-month employees instead of 11 months. Starnes noted that they work during all the holiday tournaments and are really only off about two weeks per year between the end of spring sports and the beginning of summer camps. The impact on the budget will be $7,287 total for both employees.

* Agreed to budget the alternative school administrator at the same level on the pay scale as an elementary school principal instead of the current level as high school assistant principal. That will increase the cost for that position by $794 annually. Starnes noted that the alternative school includes an administrator and six teachers and is comparable in size and responsibilities to an elementary school.

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