(TDE/Staff reports) Today, the Tennessee Department of Education announced the state’s Tennessee Comprehensive Assessment Program (TCAP) participation rates for the 2020-21 annual assessment administration, achieving an overall participation rate of 95% statewide.
During the January 2021 Special Session, Public Chapter 2 removed negative consequences associated with accountability for districts and schools whose district-wide TCAP participation rate was 80% or higher. The department is excited to announce that 100% of districts met the 80% participation rate, with 80% of districts having met the federal 95% participation rate.
More than two million TCAP tests were administered this year to approximately 750,000 students.
“After a year of uncertainty and disruption, we must celebrate Tennessee’s achievement and success in administering a strong statewide assessment to measure our students’ academic progress. This data will be crucial to inform efforts by the state, school districts, educators and families to ensure all students are able to recover from the pandemic and accelerate their learning,” said Commissioner Penny Schwinn.“ District leaders and educators spent an extraordinary amount of time attending trainings, communicating with families, and developing thorough safety plans to ensure that our students could test in person and that we would have reliable data, giving all Tennesseans a clear sense of where students are and where they will need additional support. I am so proud of their hard work for kids.”
In the immediate viewing area, the Clinton City Schools had the highest participation rate at 99.6%. Anderson County Schools recorded a 98.2% participation rate, while Morgan County was third at 97.8%.
Roane County’s participation came in at 97.3%, followed by Campbell County Schools at 94.9%, Oak Ridge Schools at 94.2, and Knox County’s TCAP participation rate was 94.1%.
For a full list of spring 2021 TCAP grades 3-8 achievement and end of course (EOC) participation rates by district, click here.
In efforts to maximize participation, the department provided flexibilities to support districts, including offering an extended assessment window in the spring, off-site testing options, and constant communication and individualized service to districts through daily webinars.
The federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) requires that 95 percent of students participate in assessments in grades 3-8 and in high school. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the U.S. Department of Education provided flexibility around the 95 percent participation requirement during the spring 2021 testing window, having approved the Tennessee Department of Education’s amendment to the state’s ESSA plan to hold harmless districts that reached an 80% or higher participation rate.
Tennessee’s districts used innovative, creative strategies to maximize participation. By working with families and local health agencies, districts were able to develop customized assessment plans that served their communities’ needs, like Giles County Schools utilizing a local church to test virtual third through eighth graders. Additionally, Anderson County Schools designed an in-person testing schedule that split classes by student last name and utilized multiple classrooms per course to maximize social distancing.
“I am pleased at the TCAP testing participation rates this year, especially given the significant learning challenges students, teachers and parents have had to overcome,” said Senate Education Committee Chairman Brian Kelsey. “To encourage TCAP participation, I was glad to be able to co-sponsor legislation in the Senate to ensure educators and school districts are held harmless from any negative consequences associated with 2020-2021 student assessments. These assessments are so important to track progress and identify any educational challenges, and I am proud of the hard work teachers and students put in this year to continue to learn and grow.”
“We are all coming off of an unprecedented year in public education. Giving the state-wide annual assessment was a top priority for Clinton City School,” said Kelly Johnson, Director of Schools, Clinton City Schools. “It is essential that we measure student academic progress in a reliable and valid format. While a hold harmless year with accountability was much appreciated and needed, districts still need this data to guide instruction moving forward. The data will guide our instructional programming from the individual student level to setting district goals. Our high participation rate can be attributed to the collective efforts of all staff, students, and parents recognizing the importance of standardized assessments.”
The department will release TCAP assessment score results on Monday, August 2.