Bradley Co. Schools Testimony

Bradley Co. Schools Testimony to the Education Instruction Subcommittee, 2023 – Part I

Notes from
Bradley County Schools Testimony
to the
Education Instruction Subcommittee, 2023
Part I


Dr. Dana Yost, Federal Programs, Bradley County Schools

  • “Learning to read is a developmental process. All students do not acquire literacy at the same rate.”
  • “TCAP Standards Analysis reveals the same standards are not tested each year.”
  • “Different standards are tested each year.”
  • “65th percentile is the measure of ‘proficiency’ on the 3rd grade ELA TCAP” (average is 50th percentile.)

Dr. Elizabeth Kaylor, Supervisor of Elementary Education, Bradley County Schools

RE: 65th Percentile:

  • The 65th percentile is the upper range of “average” performance
  • “Students are not identified as having high risk of literacy concerns unless they perform at or below the 25th percentile.”
  • “Some” risk of literacy concern is considered below the 30th percentile.

The same standards are not tested from year to year and the number of standards tested changes from year to year. The transparency of knowing exactly which standards are being tested is not known

  • “The TCAP assessment is assessing ‘English Language Arts.’ It is not assessing only Reading. When a 3rd grader takes this assessment, they are being assessed on what could be any one of a possible EIGHTY THREE English Language Arts Standards. Those include speaking skills, writing skills, grammar skills…a number of things in addition to their actual ability to read.”
  • “Multiple data sources give you the most thorough picture of a child.”
  • “When one test over-weighs the rest of the data sources, it often creates test anxiety for a child. They begin to believe that ‘everything I do is riding on this one moment, and if I mess it up, there is no hope for me.’ And we certainly don’t want students feeling this way and we don’t want test anxiety to be driving long-term decisions that we would make regarding student’s education.”
  • Considering multiple data sources will better inform decisions regarding retention or tutoring or summer camps or any of the other interventions that we might provide for them.

The Importance of Kindergarten through Second Grade:

  • These are the years where foundations are built.”
  • “Sometimes, a student enters Kindergarten already behind. When that occurs, we are trying to make catch-up growth before we have even gotten out of the gate. And that catch-up growth is very important, but while that child is making catch-up growth, all the other children are already making annual growth. So, oftentimes, solving the problem of a student who has entered school behind their peers takes more than one year to accomplish and it takes a lot of interventions.”
  • “Excellent instruction can address these needs, but you often need supports for students who are starting out behind.”

Dr. Linda Cash, Director of Schools, Bradley County Schools; Chair, TN Textbook Committee

  • “It cost Texas $2 billion dollars to implement a retention law for only one year.” (2006 – they had about 200 students retained!)
  • “Academic benefits of retention rarely last more than one year, which PREVENTS ‘catch-up’ from occurring.”
  • “Research shows promoted students continue to outperform retained students over time.”
    • Increased Dropout Rate
    • Removal of Parent and Educator Input
    • Elimination of athletic participation and scholarships for 19-yr olds
    • Social-emotional negativity
  • TCAP’s expectation for passing is ABOVE AVERAGE
  • TCAP ELA measures more than the ability to read
  • “Funding equips districts to meet needs.”
  • “Tutoring for at-risk students is the best approach.”
  • “Literacy laws have focused attention on a much-needed area of education, and that is how early do we intervene and what do we do”