Gov. Lee calls for suspension of accountability measures for this school year

Memphis, Tenn. — To say this school year has been challenging is putting it mildly, it’s been very hard for students, teachers, faculty and staff.

Friday, Tennessee Governor Bill Lee said because of that everything has got to be different and that includes testing and holding teachers accountable for how their students do on the tests.

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The timing is interesting as well because October is typically the time of year kids go through fall testing and end of semester assessments, particularly for high school students. Still, this year is different and that means some things must change.

Lee along with Education Commissioner, Penny Schwinn said there will be no negative repercussions for Tenn. teachers associated with statewide student assessments this year.

So what does that really mean for us as parents and our kids as students? Even more, what does it mean for our teachers ?

“We can’t fill in the gaps with reading or math or learning loss without understanding where they are high-quality information on how our students are doing. It’s too difficult for our kids it’s particularly difficult for teachers are dedicated professionals who are tasked with really making a miracle happen from students who might be catching up from last year,” said Lee.

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Some students are still catching up from last year while coping with changes from COVID-19. Some are learning virtually or doing part virtual and part in person, either way, it’s been a year of change for everyone students and educators.

“As a department, our department has been working closely with the Director of Schools to understand what supports the flexibility they need this year to ensure we can do all we can to help our students learn and grow,” said Schwinn.

Student assessments will be going on as planned but educator evaluations will not be based on student performance as it has been in years past. The bottom line, the focus is now on educating students and helping them all to succeed.

“Testing however in the accountability structure that we have in place has got to look different in spite of the fact that we have assessment it will have to look different this year to really reflect the fact that both teachers and students have had extended time away,” Lee said.

Please see Superintendent Dr. Joris Ray’s statement below, regarding Governor Bill Lee suspending accountability measures for the 2020-21 school year:

“As the Superintendent of the largest school district in Tennessee, I unequivocally believe in accountability for students, teachers, schools, and districts, especially the one I lead. Shelby County Schools along with other leaders across the state issued a call to action earlier this summer and we applaud the Governor’s response to temporarily suspend accountability measures for 2020-2021 school year. Now more than ever, we need to have a laser focus on student progress and continue to benchmark student achievement; however, we owe it to them to remove the high stakes of state testing so that we can focus on what matters most – doing whatever is necessary to help students reach their full potential.”