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Gov. Bill Lee and Tennessee Commissioner of Education Penny Schwinn Friday called for a suspension of school accountability measures for the 2020-’21 school year.

However, the two plan for annual standardized testing to take place this year as planned.

“Given the unprecedented disruption that the COVID-19 pandemic and extended time away from the classroom has had on Tennessee’s students, my administration will work with the General Assembly to bring forward a solution for this school year that alleviates any burdens associated with educator evaluations and school accountability metrics,” Lee said.

The annual tests, given in grades 3-12, measure student academic achievement and academic growth from the prior year. The results are used to assign grades to schools and school systems, evaluate teachers and for a portion of student grades.

Schwinn said, “The department supports Gov. Lee’s call for holding teachers and schools harmless from negative consequences associated with accountability measures this school year. Administering assessments to gauge student learning and ensuring strong accountability best enables us to meet the needs of all students; however, we know the significant challenges our teachers and school and district leaders are facing and it remains critical to reward their good work.”

The state suspended its TN Ready assessment program last spring as school systems shut down across the state in mid-March. Lee said the assessments for the 2020-’21 school year will still be given.

“We will keep this year’s assessments in place to ensure an accurate picture of where our students are and what supports are needed to regain learning loss and get them back on the path to success,” Lee said.

Some TN Ready tests are scheduled for this fall at the high school level, where many schools use a block schedule and students complete a course in one semester.

Suspending accountability measures will require action by the Tennessee General Assembly, which reconvenes in January.