Superintendents are frustrated with the state for a delay in reporting student test scores in time for year-end report cards, but the governor said he’d rather the data be accurate than rushed.
The state’s chief of testing and data emailed superintendents Tuesday telling them students’ individual test scores from the third through eighth grade TCAPs would be late this year — and likely in years ahead — due to “post-equating” the data. That process normally happens after the state sends out “quick scores” for teachers to factor in final grades, but the state began the new process on the front end this year, officials said.
Teachers are required by state law to factor the results of state tests into students’ final grades. In light of the delay, the state is waiving that requirement for school districts that ask for an exemption.
“I think the important thing is that we get it right,” the governor told reporters Friday about test scores.
The department worked with outside advisors to determine when the scores would be ready, Haslam said. The decision was “we’d way rather be right then send out a bunch of scores that could impact students’ report cards and then have to recall those report cards because they weren’t as confident about the information as they could be.”
Haslam said it’s a fair question to ask whether the state could have relayed notice about the delay sooner, but added he thinks the state acted as soon as it could. The governor said Education Commissioner Kevin Huffman is in the process of determining whether the department could have known earlier about the delay.
UPDATE (3:01 p.m.): The Department of Education is releasing the TCAP "quick scores" this afternoon, four days after saying it would take them another 10 days to validate the data. Below is the letter sent today by Assistant Commissioner for Data and Research Erin O'Hara.
Directors and testing coordinators,
We are releasing quick scores this afternoon, after hearing back from external experts who signed off on the accuracy and validity of the results. While we had anticipated it might take longer for their review, the review is complete and we want to put them in your hands as quickly as possible.
I have had conversations with many of you over the last three days, and want to thank you for your willingness to pick up the phone and engage directly and honestly. As I have tried to convey, our objective has been and will be to ensure accuracy of results precisely because we know how important the results are to your staff and students.
We know that the delay of several days caused some significant operational and planning challenges for you, and while the opportunity to receive a waiver from the state helped, it did not fully mitigate the challenges you faced. I am sorry that the delay put you in this position.
We are relieved that the post-equating process, led and verified by outside experts, showed that the tests are fair, accurate and comparable to previous years. We apologize again for the four day delay in results. Please know that we will continue to strive for both speed and accuracy, but I hope you understand that when these two goals come into conflict, we have to err on the side of complete accuracy.
As always, please feel free to call or email with any questions. I hope that you all have a nice holiday weekend.
Assistant Commissioner for Data & Research