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Board of Ed Suspends State Testing as Stay-at-Home Orders Persist

Tennessee schools have joined others across the country in closing their doors for now, and many students have shifted to online classes. (Adobe Stock)
Tennessee schools have joined others across the country in closing their doors for now, and many students have shifted to online classes. (Adobe Stock)
April 13, 2020

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- The State Board of Education has suspended statewide testing and made the decision to freeze students' grades as of March 20, when Gov. Bill Lee urged Tennessee school districts to close.

The Board's Executive Director Sara Morrison said Tennessee has received a waiver from the federal government to exempt school districts from administering standardized tests known as T-CAP this year. Morrison said districts are now getting creative to implement distance and online learning, especially in rural areas.

"Whether that's hard-copy packets and paperwork or online learning," Morrison said. "But students' grades could only go up with that additional learning and certainly, nobody's could go backwards."

She added high school seniors will also see flexibility in the credit requirements needed to graduate. Tennessee schools are closed through at least Apr. 24, but the new rules address concerns that students most likely will not return for the remaining school year.

At least 15 states have closed schools for the remainder of the academic year. And in Maryland, education officials have said they're considering the possibility that public schools could even remain closed into the fall.

Morrison said the State Board of Education is ready to take action as the situation evolves.

"Well, we're certainly going to be thinking about all the possible scenarios," she said. "We'll be looking to our governor to make a recommendation to districts in terms of the school calendar, and when and how to resume."

She said the biggest challenge will be how to address the learning gaps that will occur as students miss weeks of traditional classes.

Information on the state's response to the coronavirus is online at TN.gov/governor/covid-19.

Nadia Ramlagan, Public News Service - TN