TCAP testing moving to March in 2010

Rick Wagner • Apr 10, 2009 at 12:00 AM

KINGSPORT — Starting next school year, Tennessee Comprehensive Testing Program exams will be given in March instead of April.

The problem is the school year in Kingsport and most local schools doesn’t start until early August and end until late May, making it difficult to get through all the curriculum before TCAPs.

“The calendar is out of whack,” Kingsport Board of Education member Wally Boyd said. “We don’t need to be taking tests in April and next year in March.”

BOE President Susan Lodal said the federal government mandated the earlier start for 2010 because some school systems in Tennessee start in mid-July.

Lodal said Kingsport and other systems are asking for the testing dates to be delayed.

The idea behind the earlier dates is that the scores need to be back no later than a few weeks before any school system starts so parents can choose to remove their students from underperforming schools. Lodal said the problem is the early-start schools are on year-round calendars, thus forcing most Tennessee TCAP test takers to be tested on curriculum they may not have studied or studied fully.

Janie Barnes, spokeswoman for the neighboring Sullivan County school system, said if the earlier TCAP testing dates remain, it will all but force school systems to start the school year earlier. The state and federal governments give a three-week window in which TCAPs can be given, with most systems this year starting sometime next week.

Juana Quinones, a parent of a Kingsport student who regularly attends school board meetings and work sessions, said the perception in the community is that teaching and learning slows to a crawl or worse after TCAPs.

School system spokeswoman Amy Greear pointed out that high school and middle school students must continue to prepare for end-of-course testing given within 10 days of the end of the school year, although she said it is natural for most field trips and field days to be held toward the end of the school year.

“That (after TCAPs) is not when it (learning) stops,” Washington Elementary Principal Cookie Greer said. “We are teaching until the last day of school.”

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