By Sally Absher


More on the Mysterious TCAP Math

Last week we reported that the TCAP “Quick Scores” were back (in time to be calculated into students’ grades this year) and they were FANTASTIC! So fantastic that teachers across the state were concerned. We did some research and found that our friends over at have the full story.

The Memphis/Shelby County Education Association invited state officials to a meeting to answer questions about the TCAP scores from parents and teachers. The new Assistant Commissioner for Data and Research, Nakia Towns showed up to answer questions. (Remember her? One of the first Broad Residents McIntyre hired into KCS with a problematic matching grant agreement from the Broad Foundation?)

Towns said the change was in how quick scores were calculated was made to get the scores out to the Districts on time this year. She apologized for the lack of timely communication about the change in the score calculation, but stood behind the results.

According to the state, “Quick scores convert a student’s raw score on TCAP (number of questions they answer correctly) into a measure on the 100-point grading scale. “

The 2015 quick scores are calculated using the cube root methodology, as follows:

STEP 1: Convert the raw score into a percentage by dividing the raw number of correct answers by the total test items.

STEP 2: Determine the cube root (^1/3) of the percentage from Step 1.

STEP 3: Multiply the result of Step 2 by the constant term* which is 21.5443. The result of this final calculation gives the quick score.

* The constant term makes the maximum quick score equal to 100 and the minimum quick score equal to 0, thus, creating a range from 0-100 which aligns with a traditional 100 point grading scale.

Under the old (pre 2015) formula, a student who answered 50% of the questions correctly would receive a quick score of 74. Using the new and improved “cubic root” formula, this same student would receive a quick score of 80. A six point increase! A student who answered 94% of the questions correctly would see their quick score raised from 95 to 98.

Must be the new common core math! This isn’t how test scores were calculated back when we were kids. If we only got 50% of the questions right, our score was…50! But kids today are so much smarter, thanks to manipulating how the scores are calculated. Any wonder why we now need “Free 13th and 14th grade”?


Principal Appointments

Ah, summertime…time to ramp up the churn and disruption in the school system by administrative appointments of principals.

The administrative appointments page of the KCS website lists 15 principal appointments. Over 15% of KCS schools will have a new principal next year, including: Ft. Sanders Educational Development Center; Ball Camp, Blue Grass, Cedar Bluff, Corryton, Green Magnet, Hardin Valley, Northshore, Spring Hill, West Haven,  West View, and Sequoyah Elementary schools; Halls and South-Doyle Middle schools, and  Austin-East High School.

Those watching the BOE meeting last Wednesday heard Mt. Olive parents, including PTA president Holly Child, speak of the damage that an ineffective, dictatorial principal has rendered on the Mt. Olive Elementary community.

The principal is the leader of the school. One of the things a principal does is set the culture and character of the school. A great principal is respected by teachers, parents, and students. A great principal brings years of teaching experience, preferably with children in the same grades as those he/she will be leading, to the position.

Which is why at least one principal assignment caught our eye… Dr. Julia Kirk was recently appointed principal at Sequoyah Elementary. (Former Sequoyah principal Alisha Hinton resigned to accept a position as principal of Grace Christian Academy). What is Dr. Kirk’s background?

“Dr. Kirk is currently serving as the Director of Program Management for the Knox County Schools Curriculum and Instruction department. She began her teaching career in 2005 as a business teacher for Knox County Schools. She has also served as a business teacher, a curriculum and technology integration coach, and an assistant principal for Oak Ridge City Schools. Prior to serving in her current role, Dr. Kirk served as an Executive Director of the First Tennessee CORE office and a Regional Data Analyst for the Tennessee Department of Education.

Dr. Kirk holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Accounting from the University of Tennessee, a Master of Science Degree in Business Education from Middle Tennessee State University, and a Doctorate in Education Psychology and Research conferred from the University of Tennessee.

When in her career has Dr. Kirk worked with elementary students? Is this the future of the leadership of the schools where we send our precious 5 to 10 year olds? This makes no sense!