By Sally Absher



ACT Retake Offered

The Tennessee Department of Education is offering a statewide ACT Senior Retake Opportunity that provides every eligible high school senior, meaning any public school student who took the ACT as a junior, the ability to retake the ACT free of charge on Saturday, Oct. 22, regardless of socioeconomic status.

The ACT is a national college admissions exam that consists of subject area tests in English, math, reading and science. A composite score of 21 is a requirement for the HOPE scholarship and the Tennessee Board of Education’s goal is to bring the average score in the state to 21.

There is always the option to take the test over, but for many households, the fee for the second test is prohibitive, ranging from about $40 to more than $100, depending on options and add-ons.

National ACT data indicate that students who retake the ACT typically increase their composite score by 1 to 3 points. This increase in ACT scores could translate into thousands more students meeting the composite score requirement of a 21 for the HOPE scholarship and avoiding remediation courses in college.

The vouchers and fee waivers for the retakes will be supplied by the high schools. Students will need those codes to register and not be charged.

Laurie Driver, KCS Supervisor of Assessment, said she expects to have the vouchers available at KCS high schools this week. She emphasizes that the registration deadline for this national test date is September 16, and retake vouchers offered by the department will allow registration for the Saturday October 22 test date only.

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Thomas Appoints KCS Public Affairs Director

Interim Superintendent Buzz Thomas has made his first major administrative appointment after beginning the task of addressing what he termed “significant problems with transportation, public information and human resources” departments.

Carly Harrington will begin as Director of Public Affairs for KCS effective September 1, 2016.

According to the KCS website, “Ms. Harrington comes to us as a seasoned journalist having gained thirteen years of experience with the Knoxville News Sentinel (KNS) while serving as a business reporter and columnist, covering local business news and features. She also worked as their online producer, developing online content and managing stories on the website.”

“Prior to the KNS, Ms. Harrington worked as a general assignment and government reporter for the Tennessean in Nashville. She was most recently employed as the Director of Branded Content at Fletcher Marketing PR in Knoxville, TN where she was responsible for managing development of content, overseeing quality assurance of content, managing communication between clients and media outlets, planning and managing social media campaigns, and mentoring junior staff as writers and content creators.”

“Ms. Harrington holds a B.S. in Journalism from the University of Tennessee and was managing editor of the university’s daily newspaper. She is also a board member of various local organizations such as Entrepreneurs of Knoxville, Project Help, and the Department of Student Publications with the University of Tennessee.”


Tennessee Educator Survey Results Released

Under the headline “Tennessee Educator Survey Highlights Positive School Cultures, Benefits of Evaluation,” the state released the results of the 2016 Tennessee Educator Survey on August 16.

“Tennessee teachers feel increasingly supported, with 86 percent saying instructional time is protected by their administration—which improved for the third year in a row. Most teachers also view their colleagues in a positive light and say they hold each other and their students to high expectations. In addition, more teachers than ever—71 percent—said the statewide evaluation system has led to improvements in their teaching, and two-thirds of all teachers said the evaluation process has led to improvements in student learning. Both of those statistics have improved every year since the survey began in 2011.”

But digging into the actual survey results reveals some facts the department wasn’t so eager to share. Less than half – 45% of KCS teachers participated in the survey. And TNReady was an epic fail, with between 50 and 56% of Knox County respondents, and similar numbers  statewide indicating they disagreed or disagreed strongly with the following statements:

  1. TNReady will provide a better assessment of students’ critical thinking ability than previous TCAP tests.
  2. TNReady will provide more information about student postsecondary readiness than previous TCAP tests.
  3. TNReady will provide a better assessment of students’ real-world abilities than previous TCAP tests.
  4. TNReady practice tools were adequate for introducing students to the content changes expected with the new standardized test.
  5. TNReady practice tools were adequate for introducing students to new question types.

These insights and more can be seen on the 2016 survey website: