Saturday, August 05, 2006

TCAP info available

In my BOE packet for Tuesday's meeting was the following letter from the DOE. Most interesting is the paragraph at the very end starting "On July 7".

State of Tennessee
Department of Education
8th Floor, Andrew Johnson Tower
710 James Robertson Parkway
Nashville, TN 37243-0375

August 1, 2006

Dr. Pedro Garcia, Director
Metro Nashville Public Schools
2601 Bransford Ave
Nashville, TN 37204

Dear Dr. Garcia:

Thank you for your recent letter seeking clarification for release of the results of the 2005-2006 Tennessee Comprehensive Assessment Program test scores. It is important that all district personnel receive good, clear information as to the use and distribution of this information.

Phase One Achievement data, delivered to your district on June 15, 2006, contains a paper copy of each student’s individual performance on last year’s TCAP. This information can be shared at any time with the parents and guardians of the students as soon as your district receives it.

Phase Two Achievement data, delivered on June 28, 2006, contains the official school and district summaries of students’ performance last year. These exact summaries are embargoed until after the state releases them on the 2006 Report Card. Tennessee Code Annotated § 49-1-211 requires the state to release this information prior to November 1st each year.

However, all district employees, teachers, administrators, and school board members, may have access to all Phase Two data once it arrives at the district. These individuals must also be asked to embargo the summary information for public release. We encourage all districts to distribute these summaries to key staff and use them productively for planning and decision making purposes over the summer.

One July 7, 2006, MNPS was delivered an electronic database containing all Phase One Achievement data- individual student scores. Any district that has the capability may use this data to create their own estimates of school level and district wide score results. Distribution to the public of this information is allowed at any time with the understanding that district produced summaries may not match the final official scores released by the state on the annual Report Card.

Please do not hesitate to contact my office if you have further questions.

Warmest Regards,

Dr. Mary Reel
Executive Director of Assessment and Evaluation

Cc: Metroplitan Board of Public Education
Mayor Bill Purcell
Julie Lampb, Chair, Parent Advisory Council
Woody McMillin, Director of Communications, MNPS

I maintain that voters, taxpayers and parents are adults. The information is ours. We paid for it. We have every right to see it when it's available. We are not baby birds who need the adults and professionals to digest this information first and then feed us their regurgitated version. You do us and the children a disservice by gatekeeping. It's stuff like this that continues to fuel the general discontent and distrust of MNPS. Start welcoming accountability and full disclosure of what is going on. Only then will you begin to earn the trust of the community that MNPS desperately needs in order to be effective.

For those of you just coming to this dance:
we were told by MNPS that TCAP information was embargoed by the State Department of Education and that's why it wasn't being released as early as it had been last year. We learned that MNPS broke the embargo last year to tout the small test score increases. Several in the community alleged that the scores were being withheld in order to influence upcoming school board elections and Dr. Garcia's contract renewal. As a board member I learned from the DOE that I was allowed to have this information. Through the BOE secretary I requested a copy of the TCAP scores. Dr. Garcia wrote the DOE asking for clarification about who could have this information. Word came back to me from Dr. Garcia's office that the information was embargoed and I wasn't allowed to have it--that took a week. I picked up the phone and called Dr. Garcia and told him I was entitled to the scores. I wanted the scores. The next morning he sent e-mails to all BOE members with instructions on how to access the information from the state's website with the stern caution from Dr. Changas that the information was still embargoed.

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