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VOL. 39 | NO. 9 | Friday, February 27, 2015

Panel formed to review student testing, assessment in Tennessee

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NASHVILLE (AP) - A new task force will review student testing and assessment amid concerns that students are being overtested, the state Education Department announced Monday.

The group is charged with identifying best practices in testing and how those assessments align with required state tests.

"We have heard some concerns that there is 'too much testing' taking place," said Education Commissioner Candace McQueen. "So as education leaders and stakeholders, it's important that we clearly understand current testing policies and practices at both the state and local levels."

Jim Wrye, assistant executive director of the Tennessee Education Association, the state's largest teachers' union, said he's pleased to see the panel formed.

"When you're losing the time to teach because you are testing and testing again, you have lost the purpose of what tests are supposed to be," he said.

The formation of the panel comes at a time w hen the state is preparing to administer an assessment that aligns with the state's current academic standards, which include the controversial Common Core state standards for English and math.

Conservative critics argue that the common education standards represent federal intrusion in matters that should be decided by the state, while those on the left say they impose too many requirements on teachers.

Common Core opponents say they have no problem with higher standards that seek to make students more competitive, but they'd like to see the standards developed at the state level.

Several Tennessee lawmakers have proposed legislation to change the standards, but educators say such legislation would interfere with the alignment assessment scheduled for spring of 2016.

Last month, most of the state's superintendents wrote to all members of the General Assembly asking them not to change the standards this legislative session.

"Teachers have been wo rking hard and preparing for this assessment," according to the letter. "It would be a huge blow to the morale of educators if the General Assembly passes legislation that puts Tennessee on a path to change standards ... or that alters the timeline for the new assessment."

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