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TCAP testing under way
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It may be a 180-day school year, but for local students in grades 3-8, this is the week that matters most.
TCAP testing began yesterday in Warren County schools and goes through Friday for most students. The standardized tests evaluate students in a variety of subjects, but the two most important are reading and math, which determine if local schools are making adequate yearly progress according to federal guidelines.
“These are high-stakes tests,” said Bobby Cox, assistant director of schools in charge of teaching and learning. “There is a lot riding on this. It’s the measure of how schools are evaluated as far as performance on their report card. Historically, our students have performed pretty well. But it’s difficult to have one week out of the whole year to show what you know.”
TCAP stands for Tennessee Comprehensive Assessment Program. Testing takes a good portion of the school day and requires volunteer proctors to be present in each class to ensure rules are being followed. Science and social studies are two other areas tested, but only reading and math determine if a school is flagged in a certain area.
If a school fails to reach standards in any group or subgroup, it is declared a target school.
“If you’re a target school, that’s basically a slap on the wrist,” said Cox. “But if you fail to reach your benchmarks for two years in a row you fall into the school improvement plan and it takes two years to come off that list.”
Cox said Warren County High School and West Elementary are the only two local schools which are currently targeted.
Last year, the state retooled its TCAP testing standards to put them more in line with national benchmarks, which were considered more stringent. That caused a delay in receiving test scores.
Cox expects TCAP scores to start arriving in July before they can officially be released in August or September.