During the spring and summer of 2016 , the Assessment Task Force 2.0 discussed how assessments in Tennessee can align with revised , high-quality standards , better capture student performance , reduce unnecessary testing , and provide school and classroom leaders the information necessary to deliver the instruction students need . The group also provided feedback on TDOE ’ s developing plans for assessment , accountability , and school improvement under the federal Every Student Succeeds Act ( ESSA ).
ESSA AND ACCOUNTABILITY . The Every Student Succeeds Act became law in December 2015 , reauthorizing the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 and replacing the former federal education law , No Child Left Behind . Under ESSA , states have more authority in setting education policy . The majority of Tennessee ’ s existing policies are in line with the new law , but implementation provides opportunities for Tennessee to strengthen existing systems and structures , particularly regarding assessment , accountability , school improvement , and education for English learners . TDOE ’ s five-year strategic plan , Tennessee Succeeds , has guided state planning for taking advantage of opportunities for improvement presented by ESSA .
Reflecting Tennessee ’ s commitment to accountability , in 2016 the General Assembly passed a law requiring A-F letter grades for all Tennessee public schools . The grading system is designed to provide more transparency about school performance to parents and community members . Planning the measures for A-F grades informs the state ’ s accountability framework . TDOE is developing a plan to integrate the school grading system with the ESSA accountability requirements for implementation in the 2017-18 school year . The draft ESSA plan adds school-level accountability and includes three major changes to the state ’ s accountability framework : a new Ready Graduate indicator measuring high school students ’ readiness for postsecondary opportunities and the workforce , an Opportunity to Learn indicator measuring an additional indicator of school quality or student success , and measurement of English learners ’ progress towards language proficiency .
To inform the state ’ s ESSA plan and A-F accountability system , TDOE held town halls across the state , assembled working groups focused on specific areas of the draft plan , and opened an online portal for public feedback . TDOE released a draft ESSA implementation plan in December 2016 and plans to submit the final implementation plan in April 2017 to the US Department of Education for approval .
RIGOROUS ACADEMIC STANDARDS . As the state plans for a new accountability system , high academic standards remain the foundation of Tennessee ’ s policies and practices . In April 2016 , the State Board of Education approved English language arts ( ELA ) and math standards , setting gradeand subject-specific goals to drive increased student learning through higher expectations for students . Thousands of Tennesseans provided input on draft standards through an online portal opened by the state board . More than 200 others participated in state board roundtables across the state . Beginning in January 2017 , TDOE will provide district leaders training to implement new ELA and math standards . School leaders and teachers will engage in training in the spring and summer of 2017 . 38
In addition to math and ELA , the state initiated reviews in 2016 of standards for science and social studies . 39 The state board approved new science standards during its fall 2016 meeting , while social studies standards are set to be reviewed and finalized in 2017 . These standards were strengthened through a robust public review process similar to that followed in the ELA and math reviews , Educators , parents , community members , and policymakers provided feedback for the State Board ’ s consideration ( Figure 30 ).