Test Score ‘Coding Errors’ Draw Unappealable Complaints

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — A school superintendents group says nearly four dozen Tennessee public school districts would have appealed coding errors relating to TCAP test results if that were an option.

The Tennessean (http://tnne.ws/14Pyzi5 ) quoted a letter from Wayne Miller, executive director of the Tennessee Organization of School Superintendents to state Education Commissioner Kevin Huffman. In the letter, Miller asked Huffman to reopen the appeals window to allow school systems to review and correct TCAP coding errors

“We believe this would ultimately drive more accurate results and enable school leaders to make better decisions regarding interventions,” wrote Miller.

Miller said 45 of the state’s 136 school districts would have appealed, if they had been allowed to.

The issue is driven by the state letting the Metro Nashville schools correct demographic coding errors on standardized tests. The result was that the system move from a “needs improvement” rating to an “intermediate” status.

Miller’s letter asked the department provide “the same latitude for all districts” and came after complaints from the superintendents of the Franklin and Williamson County school districts.

State officials said, however, the appeals window of July 12-19 would not be extended. There is state policy in place to prevent local districts using this period to address demographic errors, which are supposed to be corrected during one of four opportunities earlier in the school year.

“The problem is trying to make corrections for that after people already know the results of the test,” said Erin O’Hara, the department’s assistant commissioner of data and research, on Thursday. “We need those types of corrections to be made before people know the results of the test, so that they’re not looking at particular students.”

The exception for Nashville was made because the district was busy dealing with a state-caused error that required more than 2,000 manual data corrections. In that process, local school system officials overlooked a local coding error involving Native American students.

The state reviews the achievement gaps of students in certain demographic groups when compared with their peers and then assigns accountability designations to local districts.

The subgroups include English language learners, minority students, students with disabilities and low-income students.