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TCAP results will change for 28 Tennessee districts after test materials arrive late

Several students sit at a gray table to take an exam using bright, yellow pencils. The classroom background is white.

Tennessee standardized tests were administered on paper during the 2020-21 school year, with some assessment materials arriving late to the state’s testing company.

Kali9 / Getty Images

Tennessee has recalibrated some of its most recent test results after assessment materials arrived late to its testing company due to pandemic-related shipping delays.

The state education department informed school superintendents Wednesday that some testing materials from Tennessee’s spring standardized assessment were not received from 28 districts in time to be included in the state’s report card and accountability systems.

The delays affected fewer than 1,000 students, and most of the impacted districts will see a slight bump in proficiency rates as a result of the recalibration, said department spokesman Brian Blackley.

“We were happy to get these students scored and in the system as they move forward,” said Blackley, emphasizing the late materials were caused by shipping delays or errors, not missed deadlines. 

“In places where proficiency decreased, it’s a very small percentage and not significant enough to change the school’s designation,” he added.

Shelby County Schools communications chief Jerica Phillips said the state’s largest district “doesn’t expect changes” for the Memphis school system.

Test results released in August from the 2020-21 school year showed overall student proficiency declined 5 percentage points since 2019, the last time the state administered standardized tests under the Tennessee Comprehensive Assessment Program, also known as TCAP. The post-pandemic showing marked a dramatic reversal of previous gains.

In an email to superintendents, the department said the assessment materials that arrived late to Pearson, its testing vendor, have now been scanned and scored.

“In addition to new scores being added, any materials not recovered for a complete score have now been invalidated,” wrote Rachael Maves, chief of preparation and performance. 

Maves said the delayed scores will be incorporated when the state updates its online report card in late November. The update also will include growth scores that measure learning over time, regardless of whether students are proficient, through a state formula known as TVAAS, which stands for the Tennessee Value-Added Assessment System.

Updated individual scores also will be available to educators and parents through the state’s online TCAP platforms, Maves said.

Under the state’s contract with Pearson, the company last year administered paper-and-pencil tests, which slows the process for delivering materials and scoring and reporting results. The state plans to transition high school students to computerized exams this school year.

“Like many organizations that ship and receive large amounts of materials, we have seen an increase in delays due to COVID-19,” said Pearson spokesman Scott Overland. “While relatively rare, when assessment materials have been delayed, we have worked closely with TDOE to locate, scan and score documents as quickly as possible to ensure students, families, and schools have access to this important information.” 

This story has been updated with comments from Pearson and the Tennessee Department of Education.

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