Who Needs To Work Harder?

Friday, May 23, 2014

On Tuesday, the Tennessee Department of Education announced that 3rd through 8th grade Quick Scores, the portion of students’ final grades that come from TCAP testing as mandated by state law, would not be available until May 30. This means that elementary and middle schools across the state will either fail to follow the legal reporting standards or will be required to distribute final report cards twice in one month.

“We are extremely disappointed in the Tennessee Department of Education.  The ‘rules’ associated with testing did not change between this year and last.  But, while results available last year were returned in a timely manner, the same could not be accomplished this year. This delay will impact teachers, parents and students with scheduling classes and placing students in appropriate classes,” said J.C. Bowman, executive director of Professional Educators of Tennessee.  Additionally, many systems have released for the summer.  This decision by the state will require many teachers to return to school to recalculate final grades and release report cards again, adding costs at the end of the school year when money is the tightest.

A concern of many educators, though, is why the scores are delayed.  The official reasoning from the state is that the scores are being “post-equated.”  Statistically speaking, this process ensures that any given test is valid and serves its intended purpose.  In years’ prior, this process was done after Quick Scores are reported and final report cards are distributed. This raises doubts for educators about the validity of this year’s assessment, given the number of changes made to testing for this school year.  The number of tested SPIs and overall number of test items dropped, making it harder for students to score proficient on tests where the proficiency cut off has been gradually rising over the past five years. What do the scores look like that requires this process to be done now and not later?

Another concern is the fact that districts are required to apply for waivers from the state. When a good teacher makes a mistake or changes the parameters of an assignment, he or she gives students the extra support that they need to complete their tasks with the new information. “That’s what leaders do,” according to Director of Tullahoma City Schools Dan Lawson. “When the state fails to provide test scores in a timely manner consistent with Tennessee statute, they should waive the accountability requirements for this reporting cycle automatically without requiring school districts to jump through any additional hoops,” posits Mr. Lawson.

Placing extra work on systems for a state error is the height of poor leadership.  Where is the accountability for this situation?  Where is the leadership from the DOE?  Where is the support for districts?  Where is the support for educators?  It seems that there are many questions that this situation raises, but the most pressing is this: when Commissioner Kevin Huffman said earlier this week that adults needed to work harder, did he mean educators or his staff? 

Cathy Kolb and Samantha Bates

Cathy Kolb is the president of Professional Educators of Tennessee and Middle School Teacher of the Year for Clarksville-Montgomery Schools.  Samantha Bates is the director of Member Services for Professional Educators of Tennessee.


Roy Exum: Will Perdue Abide His Oath?

Sonny Perdue, a licensed veterinarian who served as the governor of Georgia for eight years, is scheduled to appear for confirmation hearings  tomorrow  as the nation’s next Secretary of Agriculture. It has been nine weeks since he was named by President Donald Trump and horse advocates have been holding their breath for exactly that long. Will Sonny remain a devoted ... (click for more)

Duke Haters

I am a Duke fan and disagree with Randy Smith's article. Unfortunately, success is hated more than admired in the world of sports, especially on the college level. Approximately, 98 percent of the athletes graduate and have the same academic admission as students that do not participate in sports.  Please read the statement on NBC Sports News that Duke was disadvantaged ... (click for more)

City Council Winner Anthony Byrd Told He Cannot Continue Working At The County And Be On City Post; Resigns At Criminal Court Clerk's Office

Anthony Byrd, who upset City Council Chairman Moses Freeman in the District 8 council race, has been told that under the city charter he cannot remain on his county job and hold the city post. Mr. Byrd has worked in the Criminal Court Clerk's office for the past 22 years. Criminal Court Clerk Vince Dean said Mr. Byrd got the news of the ruling on Tuesday. He said, "No one ... (click for more)

Judges Say Judge Bales Has Not Signed Letter To Governor On Medical Disability; They Can't Find Him

General Sessions Court Judge Gary Starnes said fellow Judge David Bales apparently has not yet signed a letter to the governor saying he plans to take medical disability. Judge Starnes said, "We can't reach him. He does not answer any of our calls or texts." He added, "We are concerned about his well-being." Judge Bales last Friday, after a sit-down meeting with the other ... (click for more)

'Canes Bounce Back With 8-7 Win Versus Trojans

Soddy-Daisy one-hit East Hamilton on Monday in a 6-2 win. The Hurricanes gathered for a little chat after the game, and discussed their plight more before Tuesday’s batting practice. Apparently, a few words went a long way toward yanking the ‘Canes out of a slump starting the season. “The players and coaches talked after Monday’s game and we got some things ... (click for more)

Jones Sends Vols Through First Spring Practice Session

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. --  Tennessee took the field for the first of 15 spring practices on Tuesday , putting in two hours of work in helmets and shorts at Haslam Field. "I liked the energy. I liked our approach," said Vols coach Butch Jones after Tuesday's workout. "Everyone was trying to lead. That gets back to everyone can lead in their own way, shape and ... (click for more)