How To Measure Tennessee Schools Without A Reliable Test? It’s Unclear | Nashville Public Radio

How To Measure Tennessee Schools Without A Reliable Test? It’s Unclear

May 6, 2016

It’s still unclear how Tennessee schools will be measured this year after standardized testing was delayed and ultimately canceled.

Administrators rely on testing data for teacher evaluations, student grades and overall accountability. Without it, districts are basically on their own.

For some schools, a year without data might be a relief. Especially since this year's testing was kind of a mess.

That is not the case for Shaka Mitchell. He’s the director of two Rocketship elementary charter schools in Nashville, and last year, his students tested really well.

"We were really looking forward to showing similar growth again," Mitchell says. "Now we’re going to lack data for at least a year."

Both of the schools are new. Nashville Northeast Elementary is in its second school year, and United Academy is in its first.

Because of this, Mitchell says reliable data is critical as a way to prove themselves to their community.

"Parents now have very little visibility when they are trying to compare schools in the same neighborhood," Mitchell says.

Although traditional district schools might be driven less by competition, Williamson County Schools’ Superintendent Mike Looney says test data does have its place.

"You know, there are significant consequences and rewards for student achievement data," Looney says. "And so this year, all that will be presumably paused, and we’ll have to pick that back up next year."

But in the meantime, his schools are making do with what they have — like classroom observation data for teacher evaluations.

U.S. Education Secretary John King has weighed in, saying Tennessee needs to find other ways to hold schools accountable this year.

So far the state hasn’t indicated what those measures might be.