McQueen, who flew in from Nashville to give the keynote address at the teacher convocation for KCS Tuesday morning, also spoke briefly at a luncheon for the new inductees and spoke with reporters about the state’s latest testing news.
As is her practice, she tweeted while she was visiting Kingsport, and the school system also tweeted during her visit. While kicking off the luncheon, before flying back to Nashville, McQueen said she took three main lessons from the inductees:
1) “Get out of teaching if you don’t believe all kids are our kids,” McQueen said, paraphrasing a statement by inductee Lib Dudney, a retired middle school and high school science teacher and after that a Board of Education member. “I love that.”
2) There is high value in teacher relationships with students, recalling the widow of the late Bill Hull, a retired high school English teacher, athletic and Scholar Bowl coach, saying how her husband encouraged her by saying “you can do this.”
3) “As an educator, you make a difference for a lifetime,” she said, recalling remarks about the effect retired elementary school music teacher Margaret Bays and middle and high school “Coach” Cecil Puckett had on students. “Your ability to influence never really ends.”
Afterward, she answered reporters’ questions about the recent decision to move forward with Questar as the primary vendor for the 2016-17 Tennessee Comprehensive Assessment Program or TCAP. The move follows the failure of the online testing system by Measurement Inc. and the subsequent discontinuation of the contract with Measurement.
Overall, testing time has been reduced by almost a third, which she said followed feedback from teachers, parents and students about too much testing. Instead of two testing windows, the state will have one at the end of the year. Also the testing has been divided into shorter subparts.
The social studies test in grades 3-8 will be a field test, which are not reportable and do not factor into educator evaluations or student grades. McQueen said that will provide information to develop the assessment for the 2017-18 school year. This marks the third year social studies tests won’t count. She said the reason is because of the failure of online testing earlier this year and the fall back to paper testing, the new online testing could not be properly vetted. The field testing will be done in limited group of students at selected schools.
She said the identified issues with online test for this past school year was on the Measurement Inc. end, not individual school systems. However, she said the online testing will be rolled out as the vendor and the individual school systems are ready and can handle it.