Gov. Bill Lee and Education Commissioner Penny Schwinn have called for legislation to suspend accountability measures for state student assessments.
Clay County Director of Schools Matt Eldridge said this is a step in the right direction.
“We are happy with that decision,” Eldridge said. “Because especially last spring happened so much, that was kind of thrust upon us all quickly. We have all learned from that, and we are going well now, but we are glad that happened.”
While testing this year may be held harmless, Eldridge echoed Lee’s thoughts that state assessments are still needed. Eldridge said the results allow the school system to identify academic needs, which is especially important with school ending abruptly last spring.
“It is a good thing to see and let us gauge how the children are learning and how we are teaching,” Eldridge said. “What we need to change and strategies we need to put in place to make us educate them better.”
White County Director of Schools Kurt Dronebarger said he has already notified all his teachers about the request for legislation with the goal of relieving some pressure.
“We are on fall break right now, but I said I wanted you to have a good weekend as you come back into school Monday,” Dronebarger said. “Just have a little less weight on your shoulders. You are coming back to your kids, and you are coming back to do the best job you can possible, but not to really worry about those scores.”
Lee said regaining learning loss and getting students back on track are still at the forefront while working to create new legislation.
“My administration will work with the General Assembly to bring forward a solution for this school year that alleviates any burdens associated with educator evaluations and school accountability metrics,” Lee said. “Accountability remains incredibly important for the education of Tennessee’s students, and we will keep this year’s assessments in place to ensure an accurate picture of where our students are.
Eldridge said the Clay County School System expected accountability changes to possibly come this year.
“That is what all of us as directors expected,” Eldridge said. “We had heard that they did not want to use last spring of the pandemic hurt or to count against any of the students or teachers in the systems.”