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County schools push back TCAPs

While the snow and cold gave Washington County students and their teachers several days off from school, some officials are concerned about the loss of instruction time needed to prepare for the upcoming Tennessee Comprehensive Assessment Program, or TCAPs and year-end Gateway testing.
And partly to blame, the snow days will postpone the beginning of the TCAP testing.
TCAPS, which are currently scheduled for April 5, will be delayed until April 7, according to Director of Schools, Ron Dykes.
“We’re doing this because we can,” Dykes says. “We have the extra instruction time available in the schedule and we’re going to take it.”
With five days less instruction, Dykes says that he wants to give students a little more time to get ready for their tests.
“You know, we live and die by standardized tests anymore,” Dykes says. “The more days we can have to prepare, the better.”
“It puts us in a position to score higher. We strive for that all throughout the year. We are very protective of our instructional time.”
But, he adds, the only thing that overrides that is the safety of children.
“It is that and that alone that results in these inclement weather cancellations. We will never jeopardize student safety.”
Washington County has 13 built-in snow days. So far, only five days have been used.
But those missed days can be crucial, according to David Crockett High School principal, Carmen Bryant, who says she worries about the loss of valuable instructional days.
“Even though the high school doesn’t take the Gateway tests until the first week of May – I am still concerned, Bryant says.
“We started our new semester on January 4, and because of snow days, those classes that are just a semester-long – 18 weeks – haven’t even met yet. Those teachers still haven’t seen their students. That puts them a week behind already.
And as for the classes that are year-long?
“Those teachers are ready to come back to school,” Bryant says. “Especially the math teachers. They are always worried about being behind, so that is a serious concern.”
“When you’re out for Christmas break and come back, students’ minds are sort of shut down. It takes a few days to get things back to normal in the best of circumstances. But now, to come back and then miss a week of school – it’s going to hurt.”
Jonesborough Elementary School principal Lisa Lady, on the other hand, says she doesn’t think it’s time to “panic” yet.
“Our teachers do a phenomenal job,” Lady said. “And they have a complete ‘prescription’ of what they need to do in front of them. They know what is required to get the students ready for TCAPs.”
“But I hope we don’t miss any more school,” she adds. “If we do, we could have a problem.”