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Norris student has concerns about tests

Shared Letter

Hello Mr. Harshbarger, I just wanted you to know that I sent the following email seperately Lt. Governor McNally, Dr. McQueen, and Representative Ragan:

Dear Dr. McQueen,

My name is Meredith Grant and I am an 8th grade student as Norris Middle School in Norris, TN (Anderson County). I would like to share with you some of my concerns about the TN Ready Test this year, most specifically the Science and Social Studies test.

After taking the tests I did not think that they matched up with what we learned, so I read the state standards for both Science and Social Studies. After doing so I saw that my Social Studies teacher, Mr. Corrigan, and my Science teacher, Mrs. Davis, did teach me everything that I was required to learn, however what they taught me was not on the test. I then realized how unfair this test was to teachers and students.

On the Science test, about half of the concepts we learned this year were on the test and the other half was concepts we learned in 6th and 7th grade. The previous years’ material included cells, heredity, earth, and space science. Although we have already learned these things, it is unfair to Mrs. Davis, my current teacher, because she is being scored based on our test scores. This means that her teaching is being graded based on other teachers’ work. That is not okay because it does not show what or how well she taught us.

Fifty questions were asked on the Social Studies tests, but only about 10 had anything to do with the state standards. Some of the material included things like the Spanish-American War, World Wars 1 and 2, the Progressive Era, Women’s Suffrage, the Great Depression Era, Iraq, Vietnam, the Korean War, the Civil Rights, the Cold War, the Space Race, the presidencies of Kennedy, both Roosevelts, Nixon, Hoover, Lyndon Johnson, and other events of the 20th century. This is material we did not learn about this year or any prior years. Several questions were so ambiguous that I am not sure I could have answered them even after having been taught about them. The only event that we were tested over that was covered in class was the Civil War.

It is unacceptable for students to be tested over topics they have not learned about. We are being graded on things we were not required to learn, and the things we do learn about are not tested. This is illogical. It is also very unfair to teachers, such as Mrs. Davis (being graded based on other teachers) and to teachers like my Social Studies teacher, Mr. Corrigan, (not given the correct standards to teach). This makes schools and teachers look bad because the test results will probably be poor. These test are an incorrect assessment of student and school growth and of our teachers.

Although, House Bill 1981 was passed to not allow these tests to count against us this year, it is still not fair because it is only for this year. Something like this could happen another year and it will count against students and teachers. The tests do not comply with the standards teachers are being given. Something needs to change about the tests to ensure that if we have a test similar to the ones this year, the data gathered from them about students, teachers, and schools are not inaccurate. The tests need to comport with the state standards for that year. If our teachers are graded based on student scores, they need to know what to teach in order to help secure both our success and theirs.

One last concern I have is that students are not allowed to share the information of the tests with the teachers afterward, so they do not know what to prepare for in the future. There is no reason why teachers should not be able to know about the tests their students are given because after a tests is given it will never be used again.

I would like to thank you for allowing me to share my concerns about the TN Ready Tests this year and a few other concerns regarding it. I just wanted you to be aware of how these tests are so unfair to teachers and students in several ways.

Thank You!

Kindest Regards,

Meredith Grant

Editor’s note: The following was shared with The Courier News by Norris Middle School Principal Jeff Harshbarger.