Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee and Education Commissioner Penny Schwinn on Friday called for removing negative consequences for schools and educators associated with student testing for the current school year.
Student assessments will be conducted as planned near the end of the school year and used as a gauge, but poor scores may not have repercussions for teachers.
“I appreciate the governor coming out in support of this,” said Warren County Director of Schools Grant Swallows, who emphasized it would still need approval from the General Assembly. “This is good for the teachers and good for the schools. We are still going to test but it removes the weight of accountability for our teachers, which I think is a good thing right now.”
Swallows said due to missed classroom time, the end-of-year TN Ready tests have been pushed back later in the year and will be conducted three weeks before the end of school. This was done in an effort to give students as much classroom time as possible before testing.
Swallows said he doesn’t feel the learning loss from COVID-19 is something the school system can’t overcome.
“We encounter it every year after summer vacation,” said Swallows. “I think it’s nominal and not something where we need to sound the alarm, but you can’t say there wasn’t some learning loss because we were out of school for five months.”
Gov. Lee said lost classroom time is a big reason for him supporting this move.
“Given the unprecedented disruption the COVID-19 pandemic has had on Tennessee’s students and the extended time away from the classroom, my administration will work with the General Assembly to bring forward a solution for this school year that alleviates any burdens associated with educator evaluations and school accountability metrics,” said Gov. Lee. “Accountability remains incredibly important for the education of Tennessee’s students, and we will keep this year’s assessments in place to ensure an accurate picture of where our students are and what supports are needed to regain learning loss and get them back on the path to success.”
Added Commissioner Schwinn, “Due to COVID-19, Tennessee districts and schools experienced extended periods away from the classroom and missed critical instruction time during the spring. The department supports Gov. Lee’s call for holding teachers and schools harmless from negative consequences associated with accountability measures this school year.”