"With these new changes, Tennessee has the second toughest testing standards in the nation behind Massachusetts," said Felicia Duncan, Supervisor of Elementary Education. "The average student has gotten smarter since ’98 so they have raised the bar. They have changed the ruler and it will look bad for our teachers and students and they will have to play catchup, but it is not really as bad as it looks."
Duncan said that the TDOE website explains the new standards and also shows sample questions from this school year’s more difficult TCAP test. Along with tougher testing comes several curriculum changes.
"One of the biggest problems that we are facing right now is textbooks," Duncan said. "We don’t have enough books that cover all of the new lessons that we are teaching the students. It’s like our students are skipping grade levels because they are having to learn things in sixth grade that they would have been taught in seventh or eighth grade under the previous standards."
When asked about No Child Left Behind and Adequate Yearly Progress with these new tougher standards, Duncan said that the state had spoken with the US Department of Education about receiving some slack on AYP.
"The only response we got from the feds was ‘That is a daunting task’," Duncan said.
The state has said that the report card for the school districts will tentatively be released on Tuesday, November 3.
The board was an audience to members from Watertown Elementary School’s middle school band and chorus. The chorus sang three songs, two of which were in different languages, and three band members played individual pieces.
The middle school programs have only been around for three years, but this year, three of WES’ chorus members were selected to the Mid-State Honor Choir. One student, sixth grader Deanna Upchurch, was one of the top 10 singers in the entire Mid-State.
An item that had been a concern to the board was the contract with the Wilson County Water/Wastewater Authority. Three members from the authority were in attendance and answered some questions from the board.
"The wording in this contract is so restrictive and one-sided, that I can’t agree with it," said board member Don Weathers. "If we could fix this wording, I could support it 100%."
The board decided to defer the contract’s approval to the December 7 meeting, in which time, the attorneys from both sides will again try to fix the wording to make it more suitable.
There will not be a meeting in November since this meeting was moved forward from November 2 due to a scheduling conflict.
The next scheduled meeting will be Monday, December 7, at 6 p.m. at the Board of Education office in Lebanon.