Knox County parent opting student out of TCAP testing

Knox County parent opting student out of TCAP testing

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“I was told the only kids who do not take the TCAP would be students that are not present that day. So it was implied that I’d have to keep my child home from school for those days,” said Jennifer Nagel. “I was told the only kids who do not take the TCAP would be students that are not present that day. So it was implied that I’d have to keep my child home from school for those days,” said Jennifer Nagel.
By ALEXIS ZOTOS
6 News Reporter

KNOXVILLE (WATE) - Students across the state and in Knox County are in the middle of TCAP testing, but not all of them. Some parents have decided to allow their children to opt out, citing stress and anxiety.  

In Knox County school district a student's TCAP scores make up 15 percent of their grade and if they don’t take it, they get a zero.

For parent Jennifer Nagel, she said her son will not be taking the test this year.  

“He was getting a little anxious about the TCAPs,” she said.

Nagel’s son Evan is a fifth grader at Amherst Elementary, and she said the stress of the exam isn’t worth it.

“I was told the only kids who do not take the TCAP would be students that are not present that day. So it was implied that I’d have to keep my child home from school for those days,” said Nagel.

We reached out to Knox County Schools about their policy regarding to TCAPs. Dr. Elizabeth Alves, the assistant superintendent and chief academic officer said they follow state law and regulations.

They sent us a memorandum from the State Department of Education sent out to all testing coordinators.

More details: Read the full memorandum [PDF]

It reads in part, "neither federal nor state law provides for a parental opt-out policy from state assessments."

It also says state code “states that student performance on the state assessment will count as a portion of a student’s final spring semester grade.”

The State Department of Education does leave the attendance policy for TCAPs up to each individual school district.

In Nashville, Metro Schools has decided to allow students who want to opt out of TCAPs an excused absence. They will not count the test as a zero and it will not factor into their final grade.

That’s not the Knox County policy.

More details: Letter to parents from Metro Nashville Schools about TCAP opt-out [PDF]

“Parents are allowed to opt out of certain reading materials they don’t agree with, they’re allowed to opt out of immunizations they don’t agree with, but state testing, they’re not allowed to opt out of,” said Nagel.

Nagel has been out spoken this year against testing and teacher evaluations this year. She said that does factor into her decision to keep her child home.

“A child can stay up all night with nightmares before a test and they’re obviously going to come in and not do well on that test, that’s not fair to put that against a teacher, they have no control over that,” she said.

Nagel says her second grader will also be sitting home during testing next week but her 7th grade son is taking the TCAPs.

“Those are fine because those really are showing where they are, what they learned that year, but to take all the standardized testing in elementary school, they’re too young,” said Nagel.

Students' TCAP scores, in addition to factoring into teacher evaluations, also determine where students are placed in the upcoming school year.

“Principals use a variety of factors, including teacher input, grades, and various assessments to determine appropriate student placements. State assessments can be a useful tool to understand what our students have learned, identify areas for improvement, and to help to ensure that our students are receiving a high quality education,” said Alves in an emailed statement.

Nagel said she knows other parents are also keeping their children home to prevent them from taking the TCAPs, but a KCS spokesperson says they do not have information on numbers of students who are not taking the exams.

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