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BOE sets new calender, graduation date

A standing applause spread through the Washington County Board of Education meeting on Thursday afternoon after Mrs. Larimer’s fourth-grade Sulphur Springs class performed a variety show for the crowd and board members — but that wouldn’t be the only applause of the night.
During the Jan. 7 meeting, the school board set the date for the county high schools’ graduations, which will be held Saturday, May 21, with David Crockett High School having its ceremony first, followed by Daniel Boone.
The board also voted unanimously on the county’s school calendar. The 2016-2017 school year will start on August 3, 2016, which allows Washington County schools the opportunity to have fall break from Oct. 7-14, which will start the same weekend as the National Storytelling Festival.
Students will also be out on Election Day on Nov. 8.
Another round of applause broke out after a resolution passed brought up by board member Annette Buchanan. The resolution that she motioned for urged state lawmakers to give teachers a pass this year in considering TNREADY data for teacher evaluations.
The resolution asks the Tennessee General Assembly to grant the teachers a waiver for the TNREADY assessment not to count against their evaluations, similar to the waiver that the students received, which does not allow the results of the test to be figured into their final grade.
“If the state is saying that our kid’s are going to fail this year because this test is so different, then let’s not punish our teachers either,” Buchanan said during a phone interview.
The TNREADY assessment is the new math and English assessment for grades 3-11 which is taken completely on a computer and is being billed as a better way to gauge students’ critical thinking and problem-solving skills.
One problem that the resolution points out is that “the TNREADY test is ‘leasing’ test items from Utah’s SAGE assessment that may not align with Tennessee standards.”
It also states that the TNREADY assessment requires the use of technology not funded under Tennessee’s Basic Education Program.
Washington County Education Association President LaDawn Hudgins was one of the many teachers in the crowd that applauded and cheered when the board unanimously passed the resolution.
“The fact that the school board came up with this resolution is huge and really shows their support for the teachers of Washington County,” Hudgins said.
Currently the state holds the position that if the new tests’ results benefit a teacher, the results will be weighted at 35 percent during the evaluations for the teacher. If the students scores shed a negative light, they are to be weighed at 10 percent.
Another resolution that was passed could help an estimated 60 percent of Washington County 4-year-olds who are currently at risk of not having the skills necessary to be ready for school.
That will be addressed in the resolution in support of voluntary, quality prekindergarten. The resolution is designed to urge members of the Tennessee communities and members of the Tennessee General Assembly to understand the benefits and help ensure that existing and additional state revenue be allocated to provide quality early childhood education for 4-year-old children of poverty in Tennessee.
The resolution states that high-quality pre-K programs result in “students who are better prepared for kindergarten, especially in the areas of pre-reading, pre-math, language skills and social skills that contribute to fewer behavioral problems upon entry to school,” according to the resolution.
The resolution also reads that “most at-risk students who participated in a full year of pre-kindergarten in Washington County have been better prepared socially/emotionally for school, scored significantly higher on readiness assessments as well as national assessments than their socioeconomic peers without preschool when tracked to the end of third grade.”
The board will meet again on Thursday, Feb. 4, at 6:30 p.m.