State Education Commissioner, Candice McQueen showed up this week in Shelby County pledging to personally meet with ten thousand teachers across the state. It was all part of a campaign to win public appeal for next year's "new and improved" TCAP tests called Tennessee Ready. Along with the Tennessee Ready Tour, McQueen has been nailing the inboxes of Tennessee teachers with emails all week long. And she has recently released a video message (see below) that pounds in the praises for Tennessee Ready standards and standardized tests.
The video begins with McQueen thanking and congratulating Tennessee teachers for all their dedication and hard work this year. Then, she tells those hard working teachers that she hopes they will spend their summer break "re-charging and re-energizing their efforts." No relaxation for teachers this summer, they have to prepare for the "new possibilities" next year.
We have a pretty good idea of what kind of possibilities this longtime common core cheerleader has in mind.
Although, McQueen carefully avoids "common core" in her message, she doesn't fool us. She describes Tennessee Ready using terms like "high standards" and "real world skills." She goes on to say that the new reading, writing, and math tests are "designed to assess what is currently being taught in Tennessee’s classrooms." Yeah, we know what that means---common core assessments. And if plays out like New York, we can expect a huge revolt from parents who are opting their kids out of what they call unfair, political, common core assessments.
Hey, it's Throwback Thursday
A few years ago, McQueen left her position in the college of Education at Lipcomb University to head up Lipscomb Academy, a small private school in Nashville located on the college's campus. When she was named senior vice president, immediately, her fellow parents at the school began to express skepticism of her leadership. Concerns were raised that McQueen, who was deeply entrenched in the money making of common core, would sell out Lipscomb Academy.
McQueen assured parents in a letter that common core would not infiltrate the hallowed halls of Lipscomb Academy. She dismissed any claims of hypocrisy by clarifying that private school students are to be treated differently than public school kids. Evidently, she feels that those children who attend private school are just too blessed to be stressed over common core. "One of the blessings of being in the private schools sector is the opportunity to explore all possibilities within the community and culture in which you find yourself and to thoughtfully choose what fits your vision."
An excerpt of McQueen's letter is below:
"First, the Common Core State Standards have not been adopted by Lipscomb Academy. While the standards have been adopted by the state of Tennessee along with 44 other states, private schools have the freedom to determine if they will use all, some or none of the CCSS. To date, Lipscomb Academy administrators have not adopted the standards...Second, I have also not been in any discussions about formal adoption of the CCSS at Lipscomb Academy. Currently, Lipscomb Academy draws from a variety of quality national and state standards selected by the school leadership and faculty to set a vision for what content, instruction and curriculum will be used at each grade level. This has proven to be effective; thus, I don’t anticipate any changes to this process now or in the future. As is current practice, all standards available will be reviewed at set intervals by leadership and faculty to determine the direction of Lipscomb Academy."
[S]ome of you have voiced concerns that the academy will adopt the PARCC test that will soon replace the current Tennessee standardized test or TCAP. Lipscomb Academy uses the ERB test, not the TCAP, and there are no plans to replace the ERB test with PARCC.
Comparing the Assessments: PARCC, Tennessee Ready & ERB
Take a look below at sample questions at the private school ERB test compared with PARCC and Tennessee Ready. We just pulled some questions at random but you can click the links and see the full sample tests.
NOTE: Grades 3-5: No calculators allowed, except for students with an approved calculator accommodation
NOTE: TNReady will ask students to solve multi-step problems, many without using a calculator, to show what they know.
NOTE: Calculators are allowed on one section of the multiple-choice achievement tests.