Tennessee's New School Accountability Plan Adds Weight To Growth

Apr 4, 2017

Tennessee has submitted its plan to federal authorities to replace the No Child Left Behind accountability system. And education officials say growth will get new weight in some areas.

For instance, instead of just insisting on a reduction of chronic student absences, Tennessee's new system under the Every Student Succeeds Act also gives credit for making progress.

This focus on growth extends to top-performing schools as well. It won't be enough to just hit high marks on test scores. They'll have to show improvement too. And there's room to grow, says Nakia Towns, who oversees data and research for the state.

More: Read all 350 pages of Tennessee's accountability proposal under ESSA

"When you look at the performance of students across the state, we have a long way to go before we feel like even our highest-achieving students are demonstrating the skills that they need based on our more rigorous standards," Towns says.

Tennessee's new standardized test, known as TNReady, is considered a substantially more difficult assessment, though many students still haven't taken it after glitches during the first year.

While more complex, Tennessee has also tried to simplify things when judging schools. They will now get a letter grade, A through F, which school districts have resisted. However, the state did decide to delay issuing those report cards until next school year.

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