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May 29, 2015

In this issue...


As you pack up your classrooms and head into your summer adventures, I wanted to say thank you for the countless hours you have devoted to student learning this year. I look forward to starting our work during the 2015-16 school year recharged and energized. As you wrap up the year, I hope you’ll take a few minutes to watch this closing video message.

It has been a joy traveling across the state as part of the Classroom Chronicles Tour, visiting your classrooms and celebrating your successes. I also appreciate your honesty as you have shared the challenges you face and the successes you've experienced. I look forward to seeing you in the halls of your building soon.
Have an incredible summer!
Candice McQueen

Current News

Classroom Chronicles Tour Wraps

4,100 miles, 3,600 teachers, 51 schools, and 28 districts later, Commissioner McQueen has wrapped up the first leg of her Classroom Chronicles tour, connecting with 10,000 teachers. She's been tweeting and blogging along the way. Catch up on the tour stops so far, and prepare to stay in the know next school year by following #TNClassroomChronicles on Twitter and Facebook and by bookmarking this page on our blog, Classroom Chronicles. The commissioner has been sharing behind-the-scenes photos, plus the lessons she's been learning from Tennessee teachers and students along the way.

Science Standards Timeline

The timeline for science standards will be decided at the State Board of Education meeting on June 9. The department will announce this timeline after the board meeting. Please stay tuned for additional details.

2,000 Students Share Why They Love Their Teachers

After reading hundreds of poignant, honest essays (with lots of smiles and a few tears), three stories stole our hearts. We are thrilled to feature our three student essay winners on Classroom Chronicles.

Thanks to our generous sponsors, the Ayers Foundation, the Nashville Business Roundtable, and the Nashville Chamber of Commerce, each student winner received a $700 scholarship, and the teachers honored in the winning essay also received a $700 unrestricted cash prize.

Quick Score Clarification

We know that you are eager to learn more about this year’s TCAP results, and we know that you have many questions over the release of quick scores in recent days. A decision to change quick score methodology for grades 3-8 was made in the fall of 2014 and was not widely communicated with districts, causing much confusion when quick scores were recently released. While quick scores were calculated using a different method for grades 3-8 this year, the bar for student proficiency in grades 3-8 has not changed.   

Methodology for Grades 3-8

The decision was made last fall to use the same methodology to calculate quick scores for grades 3-8 that has been used in high school since 2011; it’s called the cube root method. You can find additional details about this methodology for calculating quick scores in A Guide to Understanding Quick Scores. The expectation for student proficiency remains the same as it did last year. Cut scores determine student proficiency levels (i.e., below basic, basic, proficient, and advanced). In addition, cut scores are determined by teachers as part of the standards-setting process. The cut scores for grades 3-8 TCAP Achievement and End of Course assessments are the same as they were last year. 
However, we understand that if you interpreted this year’s quick scores based on the prior method used in grades 3-8, you may have believed that an increase in quick scores indicated improvement in TCAP performance. Though the reality of student performance is the same regardless of the quick score method, the change in the calculation of quick scores may have resulted in teachers, schools, and districts prematurely overestimating student performance in advance of the official release of accountability data in June and July.

Quick Scores Not Tied to Proficiency

It’s important to note that while quick scores are the first indicator parents and students receive about TCAP results, quick scores are not tied to TCAP performance levels (i.e., a quick score of 85 is not equivalent to the cut score for proficient). Quick scores are not the percent correct or a percentile rank. Quick scores are only used for one purpose; they are created to be factored into a student’s grade, as required by law. Quick scores are designed on a 100-point scale to match district-grading systems. Please see the TCAP Scoring Flow chart, and you’ll notice that quick scores inform no other part of the scoring process. Quick scores are not intended to be a parent or teacher’s primary window into student performance.
Based on feedback from superintendents, principals, and teachers, the department has provided additional information for districts regarding quick score methodology options. Because there is no standard grading scale for grades 3-8, districts can utilize the information we provide to make decisions about which methodology option is best for them. Most districts are using the current methodology, including the cube root calculation method for grades 3-8, due to timing of these options and grade releases. Some districts are using the same quick score methodology as we did for grades 3-8 last year. All districts have received the raw student scores. Data for all calculations have been made available to each district for their use.

Regardless of the method used to calculate quick scores, the bar for student proficiency has not changed. However, we are providing more information than in previous years to ensure local leadership and educators have the information they need to best understand and use their scores. It’s important to remember that quick scores have no impact on district, school, or teacher accountability and changing the methodology to calculate quick scores will in no way impact the number of your students that are proficient on TCAP. Quick scores are developed for the sole purpose of inserting a grade on a report card, as required by state law.
In summary, we apologize for the communication failure on the quick score methodology shift that occurred in the fall. We will be creating protocols and processes that avoid this in the future. We want to continue to celebrate our progress as a state and our educators’ role in this success. You have made progress every year on the state tests since 2010. You are raising expectations and getting results. We look forward to working with you as we serve our students.  

You can find additional information on quick scores on our website.

Top Resources


TNReady Practice Tools Online Now

Beginning in the 2015-16 school year, TNReady will become the state’s new and improved TCAP test for English language arts and math in grades 3-11. It will provide us with more and better information about our students’ progress. The new TNReady TCAP tests are designed to assess true student understanding and not just basic memorization and test-taking skills. TNReady will measure student understanding of our current state standards in English language arts and math, not the previous SPIs.

Item Sampler

While the best preparation for TNReady will be strong instruction every day, we know that you need additional tools to prepare for the upcoming school year. You should have already received an email explaining how to access the TNReady item sampler through an online platform called MICA. Phase I of the TNReady item sampler is available now. You’ll find 8-12 items for each grade, grades 3-11 in math and English language arts. This represents the full range of question types on TNReady.

In September, Phase II of the TNReady item sampler will be available. Additional items will be loaded on to MICA representing each standard for grades 3-11 in math and English language arts. TNReady Practice Tests will also be available this fall on the MIST platform, the same platform that the TNReady test will be given on.

How to Get Login Details

If you have not received an email with details explaining how to log in to your MICA account, please reach out to your testing coordinator. If you have additional questions about MICA, you can call (855) 550-2690 or email

Teacher Spotlight: Teachers Appreciate Teachers, Too

I am grateful for so many teachers. I’m grateful for Mrs. Hope, the fourth-grade teacher who was known for being so strict, but who really just held high expectations and pushed us to do our best. I’m grateful for Professor James, the college instructor whose methods seemed backwards at first, but who through his creativity challenged us to think about topics in new ways.

When I think about the teacher who I appreciate the most, though, it is not one who taught me during my K-12 education or even during college. It is Ms. Egli, the teacher who taught me how to teach when I first became an educator myself.

Read more from department staffer Karen Babbs Hollett as she explains why the most influential educator she had came well after graduation.

Copyright © 2015 Tennessee Department of Education, All rights reserved.

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