Huffman said he is attempting to visit all of the school districts in Tennessee. He said he hopes this creates a basic understanding between the schools and across the state.
Huffman’s meeting with Ringstaff and city school administators was intended as a dialogue on common interests in education, and it included a question and answer opportunity.
Michael Kahrs asked whether the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers would be completely online.
Huffman said a readiness assessment was sent out to the schools. The information is being processed and he expects a lot of information to be coming in throughout the next six months. PARCC will be completely replacing TCAP in two years. The goal is for the test to be completely online.
“This will provide us with better testing and results will come in quicker for this better adapted test,” Huffman said. “... Long term, we want our own first- and second-grade assessment for the state. It will be several years before we get that, but we are moving forward.”
Huffman said the state will be using five TEAM representatives as points of contact within the school districts. TEAM is the evaluative observation used by the school system to determine how well teachers are performing. Five individuals within the system will receive updates on changes for a more efficient communication flow.
Staff members said the Common Core training for math teachers this summer went well.
Jeff Elliot, supervisor of curriculum and instruction, asked whether the training for Common Core reading would be conducted in the same manner. Huffman said the state’s plan was to observe how Common Core training for math played out. According to Huffman, the state plans to apply lessons learned throughout this next year to training for Common Core reading.
Cathy Goodman, assistant director of schools and supervisor of personnel, asked how the No Child waiver would impact the highly qualified people. Huffman said there is currently no connection between the two.
“The highly qualified people punt [defer] to state licensure, anyway,” Huffman said. “We are engaged in a process that will look into statewide licensure rules. ... We want to create a system that is more reflective of teacher quality. ... I think the current method is more of a pain tolerance screen to see how willing you are to jump through hoops.”
Joy Hudson, supervisor of student services, asked what kind of accommodations are being made for students with special circumstances for online testing. These circumstances include, but are not limited to, visual, hearing, and motor needs. Huffman said the state is interested in getting as many students as possible taking online tests. The state will be taking a look at these issues to decide how best to adapt the test to the needs.
Peggy Pesterfield, school board member, gave her thanks to Huffman for visiting the staff. Huffman thanked her and asked staff how they felt about the next year.
“Keep up the good work and good luck this year,” Huffman said.