Knox County parent looks for answers after discovering error

Knox County parent looks for answers after discovering error in practice TCAP work

Posted:
Katie Smith found one question provided two of the same answers but written in reverse order and the answer key only recognized one answer as the correct one. Katie Smith found one question provided two of the same answers but written in reverse order and the answer key only recognized one answer as the correct one.
Smith's son's assignment was what the district calls a probe, which is not an actual practice test, but has practice questions. Smith's son's assignment was what the district calls a probe, which is not an actual practice test, but has practice questions.
"[Teachers] don't have time and they shouldn't have to review every single question that they give to these children," Katie Smith said. "[Teachers] don't have time and they shouldn't have to review every single question that they give to these children," Katie Smith said.

By SAMANTHA MANNING
6 News Reporter

KNOXVILLE (WATE) - A Knox County parent said she found an error in her son's TCAP practice assignment last year and went to the school district for answers.

Katie Smith contacted 6 News after we aired a story on another parent who discovered questions without correct answers in a practice TCAP exam.

Smith's son's assignment was what the district calls a probe, which is not an actual practice test, but has practice questions.

Smith's son David was in third grade at the time the test was administered.

Smith found one question provided two of the same answers but written in reverse order and the answer key only recognized one answer as the correct one.

"When I looked at his answer and I looked at the answer right below it, I realized they're the exact same answer," Smith said. "They're just in a different order. On some of the tests, there may only be six questions. So if they miss one question, they get a C and how does that affect their grade?"

Smith sent an email to Superintendent of Knox County Schools Dr. Jim McIntyre and other schools employees in March of 2013 telling them about the mistake she found.

She writes in part: "I actually read the question multiple times to make sure I wasn't missing anything.  Because he did not go in order from left to right in referencing the graph, his answer was marked wrong.  Is this REALLY what we want to teach our children - that even though the answer is correct, you have to get in exactly the correct order in order to get it right?"

Smith said she received a call from the elementary education supervisor following her email who said the district would investigate but Smith said she never learned what came of it beyond that point.  

6 News asked the school district what action was taken after receiving Smith's email and a spokesperson said the issue "was reported to Discovery Education Assessment and was remedied immediately, as the Elementary Supervisor committed to do for the parent. DEA says the item is no longer in circulation in any form and any student's online assessment was addressed and corrected immediately."

Smith said she still worries about the added pressures stemming from the importance placed on the TCAP exams on both the students and teachers.

"[Teachers] don't have time and they shouldn't have to review every single question that they give to these children," Smith said.

The Knox County School District said the use of DEA probes are not mandated and are instead a supplemental resource that teachers have at their disposal. A spokesperson said if teachers choose to use a supplementary resource, they are asked and encouraged to check for correctness in content and solutions.

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