Should Tennessee Schools Be Graded With Data From An Optional Test?

The state offered to pay for districts to administer the SAT-10 exam to students in kindergarten, first and second grade.   Image: Jason Selicksar/Flickr

The state offered to pay for districts to administer the SAT-10 exam to students in kindergarten, first and second grade. Image: Jason Selicksar/Flickr

Last year, Tullahoma City Schools gave its youngest students a standardized test that districts weren’t required to use. Now, the superintendent says that was a mistake he doesn’t want to make again.

Dan Lawson says there’s value in finding out just how well every student is performing. The problem, he says, is that when Tennessee released its annual report on how schools and districts are doing, the optional test, called the SAT-10 (Stanford Achievement Test, 10th Edition), was factored into calculations that show how well students improve.

“There was a dramatic change in our scores as direct result of the inclusion of those SAT-10 numbers.”

Lawson contends it’s just not fair to compare districts using a test that not every school system uses.

“The report card as reported has an additional variable that doesn’t compare apples and oranges.”

But according to the state education department, almost every district did opt to administer the test. Spokeswoman Kelli Gauthier says it’s not the test’s fault if a district’s results aren’t great.

“If the SAT-10 reduced their overall score that’s because their first and second grade scores were low.”

But that particular exam may not be an issue in Tennessee much longer. A memo issued by the state indicates the test does not align with Common Core standards and will need to be replaced.


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