The scores that the State of Tennessee send home with kids for parents for TCAPs are vastly different from the scores they give teachers and schools.
I work at a school that struggles. We're not at the bottom, but we hover just above there. For our demographics, we're actually one of the top schools in the nation, but if you just look at our TCAP scores, you wouldn't know that.
This past week, we received "Quick Scores" that were given to the students from the Education Department. We used those "Quick Scores" to give the students a grade that counts for 15% of their final grade through the whole school year. From the "Quick Scores," it would look like we are absolutely awesome! We averaged 83%!! Students who struggled to turn in a single homework assignment this year scored a 90% Proficient! Wow!
Except, come July, we'll get our REAL scores. These are the "raw" scores. And that student who scored a 90% on his report card? Yeah, as a teacher, I get a 50%. That was his REAL score. How does that work? We have called the State DOE several times trying to get a hold of someone who could explain the correlation between the Quick Scores and the School Scores.
In Social Studies, for instance, a student has 60 questions. They receive a score out of 280 points. EXCEPT, the questions are weighted, so it doesn't work out even. Further, they say there are always a few questions that don't count for anything. Those are checks for "fraud." Oh, and Teachers are not allowed to know in any shape, form, or manner ANYTHING on the test. Because, because...uh...well, we don't teach to the test (but we pay you based on it), and uh...uh...Atlanta.
So, how do they figure up the "Quick Scores?" No one could answer. I did manage to find online a couple of documents that explain the "Quick Scores are figured up by a simple mathematical calculation. We reiterate that no one needs to do any calculating at the local level, they will take care of this at the state level!!" Another document http://daily.scsk12.org/... explains that the scores are given based off a sliding scale from how many questions the students get right, then assigned to a proficiency status before given a number. Even though my teacher scores (raw scores) average around 50%-55%, I've never seen a student get a "Quick Score" below 60. Most get 80s and 90s.
Testing is a good tool to see where the kids are, but Tennessee wants to use these scores to determine 50% of teacher pay. It doesn't really seem to matter all the other things we have accomplished through the year to help our low-SES kids, those scores are EVERYTHING.
The State gets it both ways with this system, though. They keep parents happy because their kids are getting A's and B's on the TCAPs, but then the State can also punish failing teachers and schools that THEY gave high grades to.