TCAP scores to count toward students' letter grades

Listen up, Hamilton County students: Don't use those standardized test bubbles to make pretty designs on your answer sheet.

You probably shouldn't choose only "B," either, because starting next year, test results will affect your letter grades.

In Hamilton County Schools, scores from the Tennessee Comprehensive Assessment Program will account for 15 percent of math, English, science and social studies grades for students in grades three through eight.

"They're trying to find ways to make [TCAP] count for students, to get them to take it more seriously," said Hamilton County Board of Education member Jeffrey Wilson at a meeting Thursday where the board heard the first reading of the new policy.

State legislation approved last spring mandated that all school districts count TCAP scores toward students' grades in a range of 15 percent to 25 percent.

"It's not something we did," Chairman Everett Fairchild said of the new requirement, "and we did the minimum."

Deputy Superintendent Rick Smith called the policy "a serious issue" that the school system had no choice but to implement.

Wilson said he was concerned about students whose grades were hovering around passing, who were then dragged down by poor test scores.

"This is really going to sink some kids," he said.

Although the test scores will count toward second semester grades, the timing was unclear. For instance, students are just today receiving their TCAP scores from the tests they took last spring.

The board will hear a second reading of the policy at its meeting next month.