Knox County parent finds mistakes in practice TCAP test

Knox County parent finds mistakes in practice TCAP test

Posted:
Two questions with no correct answer – that's what a Knox County parent said she found on a TCAP practice test given to her child. Two questions with no correct answer – that's what a Knox County parent said she found on a TCAP practice test given to her child.
The copy of the practice exam includes two math questions that do not provide a correct answer in the multiple choice options. The copy of the practice exam includes two math questions that do not provide a correct answer in the multiple choice options.
"They could say that this is just a practice test, and the test is not flawed, but we know there is a margin of error," Knox County Education Association President Tanya Coats said. "They could say that this is just a practice test, and the test is not flawed, but we know there is a margin of error," Knox County Education Association President Tanya Coats said.

By SAMANTHA MANNING
6 News Reporter

KNOXVILLE (WATE) - Two questions with no correct answer – that's what a Knox County parent said she found on a TCAP practice test given to her child.

The parent contacted 6 News with concerns over the possibility of the mistakes in the practice exam reflecting the potential for error in the actual exam.

The other issue at hand for teachers is that their evaluations are, in part, connected to TCAP scores.

The copy of the practice exam includes two math questions that do not provide a correct answer in the multiple choice options.

They also do not provide an option to select "none of these," as given in some of the other questions.

"They could say that this is just a practice test, and the test is not flawed, but we know there is a margin of error," Knox County Education Association President Tanya Coats said. "When we're taking a TCAP and it's A, B, C or D and there's not a correct answer, we anticipate that kids will make an educated guess. Is that fair for teachers or students to make an educated guess? No, that's not fair."

6 News reached out to the Tennessee Department of Education to find the origin of the practice test.

A spokesperson for the TNDOE said this test came from a company called Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, as indicated on the exam sheets, and the state only administers practice tests through a different company named Pearson.

The same goes for the Knox County School District, meaning the practice test was not administered through the state or the district.

It's possible the practice test came from a supplemental resource.

Coats said she worries that teachers are unfairly evaluated on test results with a margin of error.

"One or two questions can actually affect a teacher's profession," Coats said. "Nothing's perfect, but we shouldn't penalize teachers over something that is not perfect."

A spokesperson for the Knox County School District said that teachers should use the practice sheets made available through the TNDOE, and if they do choose to use a supplemental resource, they are asked and encouraged to check for correctness in the work.

Parents are encouraged to notify the school or school district if errors in a child's practice exam are discovered.

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt released the following statement to 6 News: 

"At Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, the integrity of our content is paramount to our goal of providing all learners with access to the best tools and resources. The pages in question are from content published several years ago and the errors were subsequently corrected in all following editions.  HMH values customer feedback, and we appreciate the inquiry."

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