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Students to take TCAP Writing Assessment Tuesday

February 1st, 2009 12:00 am by Carmen Musick






For Tennessee students in fifth, eighth and 11th grades, Tuesday is a big day.


That’s the day that schools across the state will administer the Tennessee Comprehensive Assessment Program (TCAP) Writing Assessment.


“Tuesday is test day,” said David Timbs, supervisor of accountability and testing for the Sullivan County school system.


“It is one of the tests where the state requires that we test 95 percent of all enrolled students.”


That means student attendance is paramount. Parents should make a concerted effort to see that students arrive on time and avoid scheduling any non-essential appointments during school hours on that day.


The test results weigh heavily in determining whether or not a school meets adequate yearly progress under No Child Left Behind (NCLB), Timbs explained.


“At the fifth and eighth grade levels, that test is one-third of a school’s AYP for NCLB. At high school, it’s half,” he said.


Because of that, schools are allowed one makeup day — the day immediately following the regular test date — to administer the test to anyone who was absent. Beyond that, students who miss the test because of absenteeism are not tested and count against the school reaching the required 95 percent tested threshold.


In addition to the routine task of urging students to get a good night’s sleep, eat a nutritious breakfast and arrive on time, local test administrators could also be facing another challenge this year: from Mother Nature.


A major cold front is expected to bring widespread snowfall to the region early next week, which could interrupt class schedules. If that happens, students should be prepared to test on the first day they return to class.


“If you are out for weather, the very first day you come back you have to go ahead and give the test,” Timbs said.


The TCAP Writing Assessment requires students to write a rough draft essay in response to an assigned prompt (topic) within a limited time period. Fifth-grade students are asked to write a narrative essay; eighth-grade students an expository essay; and 11th-grade students a persuasive essay. The writing samples are scored holistically.


The Tennessee Department of Education offers the following tips for parents and students preparing for the assessment:


•See that your child is rested and eats a nutritious breakfast.


•See that your child arrives at school on time and is relaxed.


•Encourage your child to do the best work possible.


•Do not remove your child from school on test days for appointments.


•Do not send your child to school if illness is apparent. However, be sure to contact the school to alert them of the reason for your child’s absence.


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