Gov. Bill Lee calls for suspension of school accountability measures; testing to still take place

(Courtesy Adobe Stock)
(Courtesy Adobe Stock)

(Courtesy Adobe Stock)

With many students across the state participating in a mix of online and in-person learning this year, Gov. Bill Lee is calling on lawmakers to suspend accountability measures for schools and teachers for the 2020-21 school year.

The move is meant to remove any negative consequences for educators and districts that may not score well on student assessments during the year.

However, student assessments, such as the TNReady tests, are still expected to be conducted to measure student proficiency, according to an announcement from the governor's office.

"Given the unprecedented disruption that the COVID-19 pandemic and extended time away from the classroom has had on Tennessee's students, 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 in a statement. "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 and what supports are needed to regain learning loss and get them back on the path to success."

In September, the Tennessee Department of Education announced prolonged school closures during the coronavirus pandemic have resulted in significant learning loss in students. According to the TDOE, while students usually see some form of learning loss over the summer, preliminary data shows losses as high as 50%-65% in some subjects for some students.


"Due to COVID-19, Tennessee districts and schools experienced extended periods away from the classroom and missed critical instruction time during the spring," TDOE Commissioner Penny Schwinn said in a statement. "The department supports Governor Lee's call for holding teachers and schools harmless from negative consequences associated with accountability measures this school year. Administering assessments to gauge student learning and ensuring strong accountability best enables us to meet the needs of all students, however we know the significant challenges our teachers and school and district leaders are facing and it remains critical to reward their good work. We look forward to working together with our elected officials on a solution for this school year that preserves our strong foundations while ensuring that every teacher feels supported in focusing on educating their students."
By Wendy Sturges
A Houston native and graduate of St. Edward's University in Austin, Wendy Sturges has worked as a community journalist covering local government, health care, business and development since 2011. She has worked with Community Impact since 2015 as a reporter and editor and moved to Tennessee in 2019.


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