In the early 2010s, states across the nation were gearing up for the new, tougher standards in education called the Common Core State Standards. In Tennessee, new standardized tests were put into effect, but just as the state continues to experience change, the tests themselves are undergoing changes too.
At the time of this writing, the official website of the Tennessee Department of Education states that the current vehicle of statewide assessment for public school students is the Tennessee Comprehensive Assessment Program (TCAP). With the state's Common Core-aligned standards under review and considered for repeal in Tennessee during the past year, statewide testing has seen major shifts and will continue to do so.
One such shift is the coming transition from TCAP to a new battery of tests: The North Carolina-based company Measurement Inc. is developing TCAP's replacement, to be called TNReady, with a rollout likely to occur next year.
Let’s attempt now to clear up some potential confusion with five essential facts about these two assessment programs:
1. What Is the Roll Out Schedule for TNReady?
The process of replacing assessments in English language arts (ELA) and math in Tennessee's standardized tests was completed in November 2014. These new measurements of learning, all part of TNReady, are set to be administered in the coming 2015-16 school year.
How can you help students prepare for the new test being rolled out next year?
Click here for free resources to help you start the next school year, or to get ahead this summer (if you’re teaching summer school). Also, check out the TNReady Item Sampler, which provides students with a chance to answer questions that they’ll face in the new test.
2. What is the difference between TCAP and TNReady?
Much like TCAP, TNReady will measure student proficiency in grades 3 through 11. State officials say that TNReady tests are more than just a revised iteration of TCAP, and have been devised to gain insight into whether students truly know the material being taught. To this end, TNReady will focus more on writing and explaining answers, and less on multiple-choice test items, compared to the TCAP.
3. What about social studies?
Social studies will continue to be part of the TNReady tests, just as it has been recently for the TCAP tests. An assessment transition plan for social studies had been approved by Tennessee's State Board of Education for the 2014-15 school year, with field testing occurring during that same school year. Social studies testing on an operational basis will continue throughout the 2015-16 school year.
4. Computer-based item types.
The new exams are expected to be more interactive and open-ended. Education department spokesperson Ashley Ball explains that, in marked contrast to TCAP exams, TNReady tests will have items in which students "move around concepts or graphics," "provide an answer but no answer choices are given," and "select one or multiple right answers from several options."
Finally, the TNReady will involve new interactive item types.
Check out LearnBop’s brand new Technology Enhanced Items (TEI) to see what the new computer-based item types will look like. Teachers can use these new items right now for free!
5. Digital Assessments.
In 2013 the state elected to go digital by shifting from pencil-and-paper to computer-based assessment for all TCAP tests. Governor Bill Haslam lent his support to this initiative with the objective of getting Tennessee's public schools on par with other states applying similar test standards for math and reading. On the other hand, the TNReady exams, it has been reported, can be administered digitally or on paper.
We hope this article was informative, and that you learned something you didn't know before. We'd love to hear from you in the comments below. Thanks for reading!
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About the Author
David Moadel is in his third decade working in education. He has taught, mentored, and inspired students from elementary age through adult. David has earned his master's degree in curriculum and instruction from the American College of Education, and is currently a certified teacher in Florida. David enjoys teaching, writing, and utilizing technology tools to communicate with people with diverse viewpoints across the globe.