Schools across the state are trying to figure out how to open this new school year. Parents are trying to choose the best option for their child’s education and wellbeing.
And they’ve been doing so as the state continues to piecemeal waivers to grant school systems greater flexibility during this unprecedented school year. Just last week, the state told school districts their snow days could help make up for days missed due to COVID-19.
They also granted a blanket waiver that takes away the duty-free lunch Tennessee law provides all teachers. Director of Schools Ina Maxwell said Cumberland County would make every effort to ensure teachers had that important break, however.
The state requires 180 days of school. The state requires seven hours of school a day. The state requires attendance to be taken.
And, it seems, the state will also require TNReady tests to be administered this spring.
The state denied a request from Williamson County Schools to cancel TNReady testing this school year.
"We must be able to measure how our students are progressing to know where they need support and what areas to focus on, and the state remains committed to providing this critical data to educators and families," Lee said in a letter circulated by Williamson County Schools.
Yet even as Tennessee doubles down on its standardized testing program, many colleges — including the University of Tennessee — have waived standardized testing for college admissions.
Colleges are accepting freshman based on their high school transcripts, not their ACT or SAT scores. Graduate schools are waiving GRE or GMAT requirements, as well.
Even before COVID-19, many schools were finding a holistic review of student performance is an appropriate indicator of student preparation for postsecondary or graduate study, instead of a how someone performed on one test taken on one day.
Our schools — our students and our teachers — have many obstacles to overcome this year. They could be switching to online learning in the blink of an eye. That won’t be easy in communities with “good” internet. It will be a greater challenge in Cumberland County, where access to internet service isn’t always available or reliable.
And we can look back to last spring to see that, even when tests aren’t on the table, our teachers are still working hard. This year will be no different.
Some school systems are already in session. Some are days away from welcoming students.
They need a comprehensive set of answers and they need relief. Waiving TNReady testing this year would provide a much-needed morale boost for teachers tasked with becoming online instructors in the blink of an eye.