2002 TCAP scores show improved math, reading scores

By Julie Fann
Star Staff
jfann@starhq.com

   TCAP (Tennessee Comprehensive Assessment Program) scores for 2002 reveal noticeable improvement in reading, language arts, and math in early grades over last year. Middle grade scores, science and social studies scores across all grades remained basically the same.
   "We are beginning to reap the benefits of investments the state has made in recent years," said Education Commissioner Faye Taylor.
   "It appears that our efforts to strengthen the curriculum and to hold schools accountable are having a positive effect. Teachers across the state are responding to the challenge and getting results. Now, we must stay the course and sustain these improvements," Taylor said.
   The achievement tests are administered each spring to students in grades three through eight in reading, language arts, mathematics, science, and social studies. This year, approximately 425,000 students took the tests. Scores are reported in national percentiles that provide a comparison to children nationwide.
   A score of 50 means that the students performed as well as or better than half of the students in the national comparison group.
   Across the board, the greatest improvements were achieved in third grade. In 2002, third grade students scored 59 in reading, compared to a score of 51 last year. The same class scored 65 in language arts and 67 in mathematics while last year's group scored 56 and 56, respectively.
   School year 2001-2002 was the first year the class size reductions mandated under the Education Improvement Act of 1992 went into place.
   The smallest classes are in the early grades. This was also the first year Tennessee schools had the opportunity to use the state's new grade-specific, standards-based curriculum in reading, language arts and mathematics.
   "We have a foundation in place now and feel this is the beginning of a trend," said Dr. Claudette Williams, Assistant Commissioner for Curriculum and Instruction.
   "The clearer we can be with expectations, and the better we can align our tests with those expectations, the more positive the results should be. The purpose of the testing program is to identify ways to help students improve academically," Williams said.
   Helping students is also the purpose of new reports this year that break down the data by student subgroup population. School systems and schools will be able to target instruction to close the achievement gaps among groups of students.
   The State Board of Education's Master Plan for 2002 facilitated changes in education that attributed to changes in TCAP scores. The Master Plan targets four priority areas where focused action brings about improvements in student learning.
   Those four areas are: Quality teaching, early childhood education, reading, and meeting the needs of diverse learners.
   In meeting the needs of diverse learners, the plan states that all students must have access to the full curriculum and that it must support schools in meeting the needs of diverse learners, such as those eligible for special education, English language learners, and those with reading difficulties.
   The Board has approved new reading curriculum standards for students and new reading standards for licensing teachers. The Education Reform Act of 2002 provided research-based knowledge to classroom teachers, online curriculum support materials and online reading diagnostics.
   Tennessee received a three-year $28.6 million federal grant under the Reading Excellence Act, enabling the state to assist 60-70 schools.

TCAP Scores 2002
Carter County
Grade Reading Language Math Science
Studies Social
3
59
61
69
48
52
4
56
59
56
54
58
5
51
51
56
47
49
6
52
59
47
56
52
7
44
50
49
45
48
8
55
59
48
56
51
Elizabethton City
Grade Reading Language Math Science
Studies Social
3
78
73
82
75
66
4
64
61
59
56
68
5
73
70
82
69
66
6
68
73
61
70
62
7
65
69
59
54
63
8
69
81
62
66
62