Tennessee Department of Education Reduces Testing Time by 30 Percent
- Business, Free Enterprise and Constitutional Issues; Pro-Life and Pro Second Amendment. Susan Lynn is a member of the Tennessee General Assembly. She serves as Chairman of the Consumer and Human Resources subcommittee and on the Finance Ways and Means Committee. She holds a BS in economics and a minor in history.
Tuesday, July 12, 2016
I had a long conversation with Tennessee Education Commissioner McQueen today. Our committee is to consider a contract for a new testing company this week but we talked about many other issues as well.
She made me aware of her new blog and asked me if I would share her first three posts with my readers which are about testing. I said that I would...
Blog post #1: What we’ve learned - and where we can improve - on testing in Tennessee
Blog post #2: How tests help improve teaching and learning
Blog post #3: Why we have state tests
Thursday, June 23, 2016
We have received this statement from the Department of Education on TNReady.
The department of education has executed a new contract for scoring and reporting of the 2015-16 assessments (including TNReady). After terminating the state’s contract with Measurement Inc. on April 27, the department, in collaboration with the state’s Central Procurement Office (CPO), immediately began the process of securing an emergency contract with a vendor with which the department already has an existing relationship. Pursuant to T.C.A. § 12-3-505 state agencies can purchase, in the open market, services for immediate delivery to meet emergencies arising from any unforeseen cause. In collaboration with CPO, the department has selected Pearson to score assessments from the 2015-16 school year.
Pearson is the Tennessee’s current vendor for the SAT-10 test, an optional test districts can administer in kindergarten through second grade. Also, Pearson, known for scoring NAEP (or the “Nation’s Report Card”)for three decades, is currently partnering with 25 states across the country, including Kentucky, Virginia, and Indiana. In fact, Pearson developed, administered, and scored grades 3–8 tests and/or high school End of Course exams in Tennessee from 2003 through 2014.
Our emergency contract with Pearson is only for scoring and reporting of 2015-16 assessments. This will include scoring high school End of Course exams, Part I grade 3–8 tests, and any completed Part II grade 3–8 exams. High school score reports, as well as grade 3–8 raw data, will be shared in fall 2016 as we have previously communicated.
Attached is an FAQ designed to answer questions about the selection of the scoring vendor.
The department is currently working on a separate procurement process in collaboration with CPO to select a vendor to develop and administer next year’s assessment. We will communicate information related to next year’s test as we move through the procurement process.
Wednesday, June 22, 2016
New GASB rules have now standardized the reporting of municipal liabilities, JP Morgan created a single measure for each state.
Total liabilities include bonds and obligations related to underfunded pensions and retiree healthcare benefits (referred to as “OPEB”, an acronym for Other Post-Employment Retirement Benefits). Pensions and OPEB are a big part of the debt picture: while US states have ~$500 billion of bonds supported by state tax collections and general revenues, they have another $1.0-$1.5 trillion of unfunded pension and OPEB liabilities, depending on rates used to discount them.
JP Morgan analyzed 330 state pension and OPEB plans. The chart shows the ratio of what states currently spend on bonds, pensions and OPEB as a percentage of their revenues (blue bars), and what they would be spending assuming a 6% return on plan assets, amortizing any unfunded pension and OPEB liabilities over 30 years (total bars).
As you can see - Tennessee is doing very well.
Alternative residential program part of governor’s Public Safety Action Plan
NASHVILLE – Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam today announced with Major General Max Haston of the Department of Military and Department of Children’s Services (DCS) Commissioner Bonnie Hommrich that Tennessee has been approved by the U.S. Department of Defense for a National Guard Youth ChalleNGe program.
The National Guard Youth ChalleNGe is an alternative residential program that offers youth between ages 16-18 who have dropped out of school and have no criminal record the opportunity to learn self-discipline, leadership and responsibility while working to obtain a high school equivalency diploma outside of a traditional school setting. Its implementation is one of the steps in the governor’s Public Safety Action Plan.
“This program creates another path to success for some teens who really need one, and it falls right in line with our Drive to 55 goals by helping them earn high school diplomas and making them eligible for Tennessee Promise,” Haslam said. “I appreciate our Children’s Services and Military departments collaborating in an innovative way to serve these young Tennesseans and our state.”
The program is voluntary, focusing on eight core components: academic excellence, physical fitness, leadership/followership, responsible citizenship, job skills, service to the community, health and hygiene and life coping skills. Program cadets are constantly monitored during a three phase instructional period. The cadets begin with a two week acclimation period followed by a 20 week residence phase and 1 year post residence “mentoring” phase.
“This is an exciting time for us at DCS, and the move not only makes way for the Youth ChalleNGe, it gives us an excellent opportunity to roll out our new programs to help our older youth get ready to become more independent,” Hommrich said. “They will have new opportunities for learning how to enter to the job market and for continuing their education."
Tennessee’s program will be known as the “Volunteer Youth ChalleNGe Academy” and will occupy the Woodland Hills Youth Development Center in Nashville operated by DCS. The department is moving its current operations at Woodland Hills to the unoccupied New Visions Youth Development Center next door. DCS expects to complete the move by early fall and has been developing Gateway to Independence, a new set of programs specifically tailored for older juvenile-justice youth who are in state custody.
“We wanted to bring Youth ChalleNGe to Tennessee for a number of years, and at long last, the pieces fell into place and we’ve been able to make it a reality. This is a great day for the youth of Tennessee,” Haston said.
The National Guard Youth Challenge was included in Haslam’s 2016-17 budget with funding of $5.7 million, of which $4.35 million comes from new federal funds, making the state’s investment $1.35 million. The Department of Military expects to have the program staff in place later this fall. The first class of cadets is projected to include 100 students and should begin by mid-2017.
Tennessee’s program will be the 40th in the country, joining programs in 29 states, Washington D.C., and Puerto Rico.