McIntyre Wants Years Added to Contract

The contract discussion scheduled for Monday night (Nov. 30) isn’t about whether Dr. McIntyre should be removed as Director of Knox County Schools (though it has been suggested many, many times over the past eight years.) Instead, it is about taking the contract he already has, which goes through 2017, and EXTENDING it ANOTHER TWO YEARS, through 2019.

No, you aren’t seeing things. He and five Board members seem to believe that after vehemently defending a principal’s “autonomy” to non-renew teachers with no notice at all, and for no reason at all, they should give the Director of Schools an all-expense-paid ticket, to do whatever he likes, for at least four MORE years.

Mike Donila gives a summary of each Board member’s evaluation HERE; but, it is important to read the full text to get a clear picture of how they are thinking (or not thinking, as some show). Each eval. is linked in the article, as well as below.

Community members and constituents must  become aware of which Board members are considering the objectives laid out for the superintendent, and which are just copy/pasting text from his self-evaluation – which also creates a sad commentary on their own ability and/or concern for the position to which they have been elected. Sadly, many are showing that they either have a complete lack of concern for the position they were elected to fill, or they are simply following someone else’s instructions. 

If you are unsure of your voting district, put your address into the tool at KGIS and it will list everything you ever wanted to know:



Gloria Deathridge, District 1
(865) 329-9949

(Austin-East Magnet HS, Beaumont Magnet Elem, Chilhowee Int, Fair Garden Family Com Center, Ft. Sanders Ed Dev Center, Green Magnet Elem, Holston MS, L&N STEM Academy, Lonsdale Elem, Maynard Elem, Sam E. Hill Com Center, Sarah Moore Greene Magnet Elem, Spring Hill Elem, Vine Magnet MS, West View Elem)

2015 Evaluation by Deathridge

Tracie Sanger
, District 2

(865) 405-4449

1st Term: Nov 2014 – Aug 2016

(Adult HS, Belle Morris Elem, Central HS, Christenberry Elem, Fountain City Elem, Fulton HS, Gresham MS, Inskip Elem, Kelley Volunteer Academy, Richard Yoakley, Shannondale Elem, Sterchi Elem, Whittle Springs MS)

2015 Evaluation by Sanger

Doug Harris, 
District 3

(865) 498-3166

1st  Term:  Sept 2012- Aug 2016

(Bearden HS, Bearden MS, Cedar Bluff Elem, Cedar Bluff MS, Ridgedale School, West Haven Elem)

2015 Evaluation by Harris

Lynn Fugate, 
District 4


1st  Term: Sept 2010-Aug 2014
2nd  Term: Sept 2014-Aug 2018

(Bearden Elem, Knoxville Adaptive Ed  Center, Northshore Elem, Pond Gap Elem, Rocky Hill Elem, Sequoyah Elem, West HS, West Hills Elem)

2015 Evaluation by Fugate

Karen Carson, 
District 5

(H) 675-0236, (F) 966-1675

1st Term: Sept 2004 – Aug 2008
2nd Term: Sept 2008 – Aug 2012
3rd Term: Sept 2012 – Aug 2016

(A.L. Lotts Elem, Blue Grass Elem, Farragut HS, Farragut Int, Farragut MS, Farragut Primary, West Valley MS)

2015 Evaluation by Carson


Terry Hill, District 6
(865) 254-5884

1st Term: Sept 2014 – Aug 2018

(Amherst Elem, Ball Camp Elem, Byington-Solway Technology Center, Hardin Valley Elem, Hardin Valley Academy, Karns Elem, Karns HS, Karns MS, Northwest MS, Norwood Elem, Pleasant Ridge Elem)

2015 Evaluation by Hill

Patti Bounds, 
District 7

(865) 406-8623

913 N. Meadows Blvd., Knoxville, TN 37938

1st  Term: Sept 2014 – Aug 2018

(Adrian Burnett Elem, Brickey-McCloud Elem, Copper Ridge Elem, Halls Elem, Halls HS, Halls MS, North Knox Vocational Center, Powell Elem, Powell HS, Powell MS)

2015 Evaluation by Bounds


Mike McMillan, District 8
(865) 933-0300

1st Term: Sept 2010 – Aug 2012
2nd Term: Sept 2012 – Aug 2016

(Career Magnet Academy , Carter Elem, Carter HS,Carter MS, Corryton Elem, East Knox Elem, Gibbs Elem, Gibbs HS, Ritta Elementary, Sunnyview Primary)

2015 Evaluation by McMillan


Amber Rountree, District 9
(865) 712-6005

1st  Term: Sept 2014 – Aug 2018

(Bonny Kate Elem, Dogwood Elem, Gap Creek Elem, Mooreland Heights Elem, Mount Olive Elem, New Hopewell Elem, South-Doyle HS, South-Doyle MS, South Knoxville Elem)

2015 Evaluation by Rountree

For coverage of some of the recent Board fiascos, please see the articles below:


KCS BOE Live Blog 11-4-15

KCS BOE Live Blog 6-19-15

Thank you for joining us!

The live blog for the Knox County Schools Board of Education Mid-Month Work Session, October 19, 2015 will begin at 5PM.

To follow the blog, just leave this page open and it will automatically update. If your page does not update, try refreshing your page or using another browser. If you have trouble with this page, please let me know in the comments.

Documents in tonight’s presentation are available, here:

3084_Student Assessment Inventory Summary Report October 2015

3084_Student Assessment Inventory Board Presentation 10-19-2015

3084_TNReady 10 19 15 BOE FINAL

3085_Block Schedule Presentation to Board 10 19 15C


KC BOE Live Blog 10-7-2015

This is live coverage of the Knox County Board of Education meeting on October 7, 2015.

The Vilification of Amy Frogge


Amy Frogge is a strong proponent of public schools and educating all children. Her opposition to the charter take-overs in Nashville public schools is not new, and she has consistently stood her ground and fought to expose the truth about the fraudulent institutions and false claims coming out of them.

Recently, an article painted her as a hard-core, bookburning, nut. Of course, when you leave out the evidence and the majority of the story (which is exactly how these Nashville charters operate), it is pretty easy to come up with something completely different from reality. The op ed that appeared in The Tennessean used this inflammatory and inaccurate headline: “Close a School Because of a Reading Assignment? That’s What One Nashville School Board Member Wants.”

For some, it is easy to forget that charter institutions are run by corporations. Their goal is money-making. The “success” of this corporation has been heavily and inaccurately reported because a lot of the reporting is done on multiple blog sites by Ravi Gupta, who is Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer of RePublic Charter Schools – the group that runs Nashville Prep. Control the media, and you control the story.

This story has the potential to go on for some time, as it is quite complex. Before we delve too deeply into the larger problems in Nashville Prep, it is important to understand that even this one incident, with an absurdly inappropriate book, blatantly ignores the law. 

Consider some of Betsy Phillips’ points at on Sept. 9, 2015, Nashville Prep, Please Stop This Right Now.

Phillips shared an article written by Ravi Gupta, in which he attempts to explain-away the blatant copyright infringement going on in his “school.”

But we actually didn’t assign this book as published. Despite the fact that we love this book in its unedited form, our curriculum staff met over the summer to discuss whether we could maintain scholar interest while editing out curse words and some of the more mature subject matter. We agreed that we could, so every scholar has received a redacted version of the book (excerpts of which were shared with the district).

We changed scenes involving “sex” to scenes involving “kissing.” We changed curse words like “s**t” to “”poop.” We also redacted whole sections that involved mature scenes. I am sure we missed a word here and a word there, but the book as edited is far from the excerpts Frogge and Baldwin are circulating in terms of mature content. I doubt this information will stop them from circulating pages from the original book though, because they seem more intent on creating a problem than solving one.

I sent sections of this redacted version to the district, who then shifted their attention to whether we committed a copyright violation in redacting sections of the book. These folks would have made Kafka blush. Our lawyers believe we are on safe ground, and I wonder whether the district wants to declare open season on any teacher in their system who photocopies a book or text for use in classrooms. I doubt the district wants to wear a white shirt here. I suspect that if we asked David Benioff (the author) his opinion, he would be more outraged that a school district was attempting to ban one of his books than at the fact that a school is attempting to make his work accessible for younger readers. After all, the father of the main character in City of Thieves was killed in an act of literary censorship — making this debate all the more ironic.

I hate to be the bearer of reality for Mr. Gupta, but it is absolutely against the law for a teacher (or anyone else), to copy a textbook. Had he any significant experience in education, he would be very aware of the strict penalties educators – and their school districts – can face. 

Phillips also explains that this is a clear copyright violation:

All other issues aside, this is a clear copyright violation. Nashville Prep is stealing the intellectual property rights of David Benioff, the author of City of Thieves, and his publisher, Plume (part of Penguin, which is now part of Random House which is part of Bertelsmann, one of the largest publishers in the world). There are quite a few things going wrong based on the description Gupta provides above.

… the only two entities who could give permission for Nashville Prep to make copies of the book are Benioff and Plume. It’s clear from the post that they did not do this. 

If you are keeping score, Gupta is currently at one copyright violation for EVERY copy of the book that was made and rewritten. Good luck keeping count from here…

Amy Frogge is trying to set the record straight. Hopefully, the taxpayers in Nashville will wake up and listen. I am also hopeful that other large urban districts will learn from Nashville’s mistakes, rather than repeating them. Amy Frogge’s Facebook post, regarding the book and continuing problems at Nashville Prep is below. I have highlighted select lines. Nothing else has been changed.

Amy Frogge


Today I was attacked (again) by Ravi Gupta, the head and founder of RePublic Schools, which operates several schools in the district, including Nashville Prep. This time, Mr. Gupta was upset about a private email I’d written to MNPS administrators (the email was forwarded to Mr. Gupta) in which I reported that young students at his school are reading a wildly inappropriate book. In my email, I commented that Nashville Prep should be closed. Mr. Gupta has now sent out a blog post trying to focus attention on me and detract from the issue at hand; he contends in his post that I am trying to conduct a “book burning.” In response, I feel the need to explain the full context of my email. Anyone who knows me understands that I am not a fan of corporate education reform or of so-called “no excuses” charter schools. However, Nashville Prep stands out in its treatment of children. The book at issue is quite stunning in its rhetoric and descriptions of explicit sexual encounters; I will detail that below. However, complaints forwarded to me about this school over the last two years are even worse. Here, precisely, is why I have become very upset and frustrated about Nashville Prep:

Nearly two years ago, a parent approached me after a board meeting, crying. She had come to our board meeting as a last-ditch effort, because she had been unable to help her daughter, who was a 10-year-old student at Nashville Prep. She told me her child had become depressed and anxious because of the extreme no-excuses disciplinary procedures at the school, and she needed help removing her child from the school.She had tried to bring her concerns to the attention of the Office of Innovation (which oversees charter schools), but she said her concerns were ignored. She maintained that she had trouble navigating the withdrawal/enrollment process because no one seemed to be in charge of process for charter schools.

Editor’s note:
Let’s step out and consider what this parent’s experience says: Nashville parents have choices, and can choose to easily enroll in Nashville Prep. It seems they can NOT choose to easily leave. 

Please click below, to continue to page 2:

Pages: 1 2 3

Knox County BOE 9/2/15

This is the I Teach I Vote live blog from the Knox County Schools regular meeting on September 2, 2015.


Knox Co BOE Work Session 6/29/15




Great Rally Signs

If you aren’t already planning to attend the rally for teachers, students, and public education on July 1st at 3:30, at the Knoxville City-County Building, please mark your calendar!

Some participants have already started thinking about ideas for signs, so I have gathered photos from rallies all over the US, which represent many of the current topics of concern.

When making a sign, remember that most of your audience will be DRIVING and will have only a few seconds to get your message.

Here are some tips for great signs:

  • Use HUGE letters
  • Use as few words as possible
  • Look at your sign from a distance to check for readability
  • Plan your sign before making it
  • Have another person check your grammar and spelling!
  • Use sturdy materials
    • science fair type presentation boards
    • old corrugated campaign signs that are still in your garage
    • Heavyweight poster board
  • Think about space – signs that can be held up HIGH can go behind lower ones for bigger visual impact.
  • Lowe’s has yardsticks that are GREAT for signs.
  • For large signs, consider a stick on each end
  • Use BOTH sides when possible – especially for signs that will be held high.
  • CLEAN UP after the rally!
    • If you expect to need signs again, store them in a poster bag
    • Be sure nothing is left behind for others to clean up after you

Teachers at Lacy Elementary School in Raleigh wear red to show support for a teacher “walk-in” Monday, Nov. 4, 2013. Read more at

From the TEA Rally, March 5, 2011 (Photo JOwen)

From the TEA Rally, March 5, 2011 (Photo JOwen)




More Education Less Legislation


Patti Hickey of Highlands Ranch joins more than 200 others rallying in support of Douglas County School District teachers outside the district administration building Friday. (Karl Gehring, The Denver Post)

From the TEA Rally, March 5, 2011   (Photo JOwen)

From the TEA Rally, March 5, 2011 (Photo JOwen)

Members of UFT Solidarity, New Action and DTOE (Don’t Tread on Educators) hold signs as they rally on the steps of the Tweed Courthouse in Manhattan demanding reforms to the process of teacher dismissal in New York City public schools “New teachers deserve support, not abuse.” “Fire abusive administrators, not teachers.” “Justice for probationary teachers.” (“Probationary might be confusing to people. Alternatives would be “all,” “new,” or “non-renewed.”

March 5, 2011 (Photo JOwen)

March 5, 2011 (Photo JOwen)



March 5, 2011   (Photo JOwen)

March 5, 2011 (Photo JOwen)

March 5, 2011

March 5, 2011

Chicago public school educators and activists rallied Monday afternoon to support teachers who have refused to administer the Illinois Standards Achievement Test (ISAT) and parents who have opted their students out of the exam.

AP Photo/Brennan Linsley Students protest outside of Ralston Valley High School, Tuesday, Sept. 23 in Arvada.

AP Photo/Brennan Linsley Students protest outside of Ralston Valley High School on Tuesday, Sept. 23 in Arvada “All tyranny needs to gain a foothold is for people of good conscience to remain silent” Edmund Burke

Jeffco Public Schools teacher Audrey Truesdale rallied with more than 100 other educators, parents, and students Friday evening to raise awareness for their concerns about the county’s school board majority. ( Photo by Nicholas Garcia )

“I may be small, but my potential is huge!”

“Think outside the bubble. Let us teach.” “One Size does not fit all.”

Chicago teachers rally support in the streets during a mass march in May “At a time when most union officials are shamefacedly selling concessions as “the best we can do,” Chicago teachers are defiant. Just ask anyone who encountered the giant inflatable rat that accompanied the spirited CTU picket outside the Chicago Public Schools (CPS) offices August 22 a few hours before a school board meeting.”

My favorite anti-testing sign:




Knox Co BOE Speakers 6/3/15

Some of the speakers from the June 3rd Knox County Board of Education meeting at the City County Building are linked below. Clicking the video will start the Youtube video and clicking the caption will take you to another page, where you can see both the video and a partial transcript.

Lauren Hopson
Knox County third grade teacher who will begin serving as President of the Knox County Education Association, in July, 2015 – Speaking in support of non-renewed teacher, Christina Graham

Christina Graham
Non-Renewed Kindergarten Teacher, with solid evaluation scores – Speaking about her non-renewal experience, and the inability to get straight answers or even a reason.

Jennifer Owen
Former Knox County Teacher – Explains that action against employees who speak is illegal and that the Board has a duty to assume all reports are given in good faith and to fully investigate.
Holly Child Knox County Parent – Speaking about staffing concerns at Mount Olive Elementary School

Jade Wilson
Knox County Parent – On  the “Vision” of Knox County Schools and the fact that numbers of those who look out for the needs of students in Knox County are dwindling. “You cannot put a price tag on nurturing young minds.”

Therese Sipes
Knox County Parent – Speaking regarding the “vision” at Mount Olive and the atmosphere of fear in KCS. “If this teacher didn’t fit one person’s vision for our school, then it is the vision, not the teacher, in need of replacement.”

Lynn Schneider
Parent and Former Knox County teacher –  “As our elected school board representatives, you have an obligation to advocate for our students. You should realize that the educators ARE the experts and they SHOULD be driving education policy.”

Jenny Ortner
Knox County Parent – In Support of Natasha Patchen at Copper Ridge and on the climate of low morale, mistrust, and fear among staff. “Every decision educators make, is supposed to be about the students. I believe that the staffing decisions made at Copper Ridge have lost sight of that.”

Kelly Wright
Knox County Parent – Speaking in support of Natasha Patchen and Christina Graham at Copper Ridge Elementary School
Steven Rogers
Knox County Schools Teacher

Rob Taylor
Former Knox County Schools Teacher

Mark Taylor
Knox County Schools Teacher

Louise Povlin
Knox County Parent – Addressing assessments, assessing the assessments, and the balanced calendar, and the “capricious and cruel” way teachers have been non-renewed. “I’m tired of seeing good teachers disappearing from my children’s schools.”

To the Knox Co BOE, 6/3/2015

To the Knox County Board of Education, June 3rd, 2015

I have a great deal of respect for the educators behind me & I know they have sacrificed dearly, trying to bring information to this Board and the public, for the benefit of students in Knox County Schools. However, I think we are going about things the wrong way: This may not be the best forum for these concerns. We may need a larger forum.

We tend to forget that Knox County does not have a school system.

  • Our state has a school system.
  • This state system is divided into smaller districts: Local Education Agencies (LEAs)
  • Management of those LEAs is entrusted to local boards of education.

So – just looking at the Big picture:

  • The State Legislature makes the laws regarding schools in the state;
  • the State Board of Education further creates policies;
  • the State Department of Education is tasked with enforcing the laws and policies;
  • cities and counties elect boards of education;
  • Boards of education serve the STATE, by managing the Local Education Agencies;
  • and those boards hire a Director of Schools to oversee day-to-day operation of their LEA.

As teachers and community members, we keep talking to middle management. “Truth to power” doesn’t come from talking to middle management – especially when middle management is a large part of the problem.

To better serve our community, we need to take a look at Tennessee Code Annotated and really think about where our voices might better serve our students.
There are two things the following laws address:
Illegal acceptance of the Broad grant and treatment of employees who have tried to addressproblems within KCS.

The Education Truth in Reporting and Employee Protection Act of 1989 deals with the very problems we are seeing. (TCA 49-50-1402)

(a)….It is the intent of the general assembly to reduce the waste & mismanagement of public education funds, to reduce abuses in governmental authority & to prevent illegal & unethical practices.

(b) To help achieve these objectives, the general assembly declares that public education employees should be encouraged – ENCOURAGED – to disclose information on actions of LEAs that are not in the public interest … any employee making those disclosures shall not – SHALL not – be subject to disciplinary measures, discrimination or harassment by any public official.

[I believe that should include attempts by this board to publicly chastise or shame those employees in these meetings]
Tennessee Code clarifies:

(1) “Disciplinary action” means any direct or indirect form of discipline or penalty, including, but not limited to, dismissal, demotion, transfer, reassignment, suspension, reprimand, admonishment, reduction in force, withholding of work, unsatisfactory or below standard performance evaluation or the threat of such discipline or penalty;

(2) “Disclosure of information” [May include]

  • the waste of public education funds, 
  • mismanagement, 
  • falsification of state required reports, 
  • inaccurate compilation of statistical data or reports 


  • abuse of authority by locally employed, elected or appointed officials or employees of an LEA…

The Penalties are clearly laid out in TCA 49-50-1406 

  Should any person [This could also be an employee – like a Director of Schools] – be found guilty of knowingly and willfully making or causing to be made any false statement or report or otherwise violating the requirements … that person shall forfeit all pay and compensation for the position held for a period not to exceed one (1) year, be subject to dismissal, removal or


Yes, an EMPLOYEE can also be subject to OUSTER

from the office or position and be ineligible for election or appointment for the same or a similar position for five (5) years.

(a) Any person having knowledge…may report or disclose the falsification, waste or mismanagement

  • to the department of education
  • or committee of the general assembly
  • or individual official, member or employee of the department

(b) The department shall make a thorough investigation of any written report of falsification, waste or mismanagement. 

[Have our BOARD members ALL made a THOROUGH investigation of of issues that have been brought up???

(c) …a person reporting shall be presumed to be acting in good faith 

[something that has NOT been evident in these meetings]

and shall thereby be immune from any liability, civil or criminal, that might otherwise be incurred or imposed for the reporting.
I believe we have dealt with middle management long enough. It is time to exercise OUR due diligence, as community members, and move these problems up the chain.


Please Stand for Something

Teachers in Knox County are finding out that speaking to the Board of Education may cost their jobs. This has always been a risk, but many felt that expressing concerns was well worth it, as long as they did so respectfully. They are now finding that even respectfully speaking about certain topics can cause them to be non-renewed. Now, teachers are being told that even SITTING IN A BOARD OF EDUCATION MEETING will be “professional suicide.”

In response to those threats, my friend, Steven, posted this:

Point of order about protest/speaking up/taking a stand for what you think is right. Your PERSONAL situation may be good or great (for example, my gig is actually pretty damn good), but the situation of your colleagues in another part of the building, or county or in a different discipline, may be unacceptable. Saying “I’ve got mine” and letting them fight alone is lazy at best, and selfish at worst.


And I absolutely agree.


I have heard many groups gather together, to lament something that they see being done to a colleague, but RARELY see them do more than that. Shaking your head and saying,”Oh, this is terrible,” and then going on with business as usual solves nothing. It does, however, set up a spiral of hand-wringing and hiding.

Ten years ago, teachers in my building were faced with a reading curriculum that was so poorly put together, half the school could barely figure out how to use it. The other half had very little trouble, as they were using a different version and had different training. It was so bad that some of the staff got together, re-arranged the materials, to be usable, and retrained each other. (I assume that was very problematic for the people who had not disclosed that the whole thing was a RESEARCH PROJECT, to show how inferior training impacted student learning!) Throughout that time, we were never afraid to tell our principal that things needed to change.

Ten years ago, our principal met mistakes with a question about how we thought we could correct them and how she could help. By 2010, things had changed drastically, and we started to see sweeping changes throughout the state, as well as the nation. In our building, teachers opinions and ideas were no longer welcomed, but met with disdain and even public shaming. Six years ago, teachers in my building said that we should just “roll with it” until things changed.

Things have changed: Many of those educators are no longer teaching.

Three years ago, when I asked our BOE member to SHOW US the things that were being touted in the budget, the faculty urged me on and congratulated me for asking tough questions. When I asked them to go with me to speak with our legislators, or to even tell me what they would like me to say, they said, “You always do a great job with that. Whatever you say, I’m with you.” They were behind me, but not a single one of them stood BESIDE me.

When they came, in groups, to tell me about a problem that made them afraid to be in our building, that the administration would not address, I called KCEA for help. NONE of those teachers would talk. And when the administration came to my room and said that they knew I had made the call and that I had better never do anything like that again, I stood against them, alone. (Technically, I sat alone, because they were standing and had me cornered, behind my desk.)

Of course, there were always a few other teachers, who would question policy or curriculum, or other school-based decisions. They now say things like, “I’ve learned to keep my mouth shut; it’s just easier” or “See this? This is my happy face, and this is the face I am going to have this year – all year – no matter what.”

I expect those teachers to be gone soon, too.

Accepting terrible treatment and illegal actions, will not make them go away. Hiding them behind a smiling face will not make them go away. Allowing a few to stand up for you may make a difference for a while, but as they are struck down, one by one, who will be there to take their place?  When you are the one being chopped, without due process and you are standing in an auditorium alone, facing the Board of Education, I hope some of us are still around, to stand with you. Based on the unwillingness of most, to even stand up for their students and themselves, I can’t imagine there will be many who are willing to stand for others, by this time next year.

Knox County BOE 6/1/15

Live Blog from the June 1st, 2015 Work Session of the Knox County Board of Education

It’s Not About the Score; It’s the Cut-Score

***As this information continues to change and develop, this post will be updated.

There has been a lot of news about cut-scores in the last few days; but the only thing people really seem to understand, is that they don’t really understand cut scores. So, let’s break it down.

What is a “cut score”?
This one is pretty straight-forward:  It is a cut-off point. If you had a number line, and divided it by what scores are advanced, which are proficient, etcetera, those dividing points are the “cuts.”

What is a “quick score”?
A quick score is a score is temporary. It is delivered quickly, after the tests have been administered, to give students and teachers a score that can be used for final grades and or placement in the next year’s courses.

If these tests are as carefully created and reliable as they claim to be, why can’t they deliver the real score, rather than a “quick score”?
That’s a good question. Keep asking it. (I’m pretty sure you already know the answer.) If anyone gives you an answer that doesn’t involve manipulating test data, question that, too.

What is an “equated” score?
This is just taking a score and making it comparable to another score. For example, we might have one test that produces a score of 1 to 5, and a similar test that produces a score of 0% to 100%. Comparing those, a score of 4 would mean two very different things. To make a comparison, we might “equate” (translate) the 4 to 80%.

That sounds easier than it is. When creating an “equated” score, additional factors are taken into consideration, beyond just the number. One of those tests may have questions that are far more difficult than the other, for example. So, to make an equated score, the difficulty of each test is also considered, along with the number of questions, the kinds of questions, and other factors, to get down to what a score on one of these tests would “equate” to, on the other.

What are “pre-equated” and “post-equated” scores?
“Pre-equated” scores are scores that are equated BEFORE students are tested.

“Post-equated” scores are equated AFTER students are tested.

Why does it matter whether cut scores are equated before or after testing?
Now we are in a tricky area. It looks simple; but it is not.

(If you would like to read a paper on the topic, A Comparison of Pre-Equating and Post-Equating using Large-Scale Assessment Data explains things well.)

Most organizations use PRE-equated scores, because they are better able to justify where the cut-offs occur. If an test creator has carefully considered their questions, the course content those questions map to, and the difficulty of the questions, they should be able to reasonably set the cut-off points where students should be expected to perform if they have “basic” knowledge, “proficient” knowledge, or “advanced” knowledge.

Since the Tennessee Department of Education uses Post-equated scores – they can willy-nilly set the cut scores to whatever they want, AFTER the tests have been taken.

This changes EVERYTHING your students and teachers have been told. They were given curriculum to use and scores to work toward. Their “quick scores” showed that they mastered the material. But the Department of Education gets to go back and CHANGE THEIR MINDS about the cut-scores.

Can you imagine being in a class, where the teacher gives you a grade and over the summer, sends you a note that he re-calculated the grades and your grade is completely different?!  That is what the Tennessee Department of Education can do by determining cut-scores AFTER the tests have been taken and scored.

A local reporter told me that she is trying to do a story on this, but is having trouble getting information from the Department of Education!  How is that acceptable? Why aren’t parents on the doorstep of the TN DOE?


The Tennessee Education Association has also been trying to get answers and posted this information on May 27, 2015, on their Facebook page:

TCAP Update:
Following the state’s conference call, we now know that the state did change its methodology for calculating quick scores for students in grades 3-8. It is now using the cubed-root method the state has been using for high school EOCs. This change in methodology resulted in apparent grade inflation, leading parents and educators to believe students had performed better than in previous years. The change resulted in about a 4-point increase in cut scores from the method used in 2014.

Please visit the link below for documents provided by the state in its attempt to explain these changes. TEA still has many, many questions about the reliability of both the quick and cut scores, why these changes were made and how proficiency levels are determined. We will continue our efforts to get more answers from the state and insist that they‪#‎showthemath.

State Documentation of TCAP scores

Below are some of the official answers TEA has been able to get, so far. Please note that TEA has been doing their due diligence on this issue and there has been more information, each time I have looked at their page.  Please use the link above, to follow their findings.

Quick Score/Proficiency level correlation:
We have not changed the mark or expectation for student proficiency on TCAP; there have been no changes to cut scores for proficiency levels. I’d also like to clarify that quick scores are no longer tied to TCAP performance levels. For example, a quick score of 85 is not equivalent to the cut score for proficient. We compare student performance each year based on the scale scores.  The scale scores determine the cut points for performance levels (i.e. below basic, basic, proficient, advanced). We always produce equating tables in the fall that clearly define the raw score equivalent cut points based on the scale score. This is designed to help teachers know what to expect early in the school year. The equating tables for 3-8 achievement can be found here.  The equating tables for EOC can be found here.

Student performance expectations for the proficiency threshold have not changed.  They are exactly the same as last year, and these expectations are exactly the same as the equating tables which we published online in the fall for teachers to access. Quick scores do not determine proficiency levels. I have attached a FAQ – A Guide to Understanding Quick Scores – that we created to help explain the purpose for quick scores.  In addition, please see the attached TCAP Scoring Flow Chartthat shows how and where quick scores fall into the scoring process.  It is clear from the flow chart that quick scores have no relationship to performance levels.  Quick scores are used only to calculate a 100-point grading scale. There are various methodologies that can be used to create a 100-point grading scale from the raw score, and, this year, we used the cube root method for grades 3-8, as we have done for EOCs over the past several years.

Quick Score Calculation:
What was the rationale for making this change to the cube root method? Is it possible to see the formula used for this calculation?

The rationale for making the change was to create a consistent methodology for generating quick scores and one that was not dependent upon TCAP performance levels like the interval scaling method used in 3-8 achievement since 2012. We updated the methodology to be consistent with what we are doing for End of Course exams.  We will be engaging directors of schools in more conversations about quick scores for 2015-16.

I have attached (linked above) a memo from April 2012, TCAP Quick Score Conversion Guidance, which includes the interval scaling methodology for generating quick scores in grades 3-8.  I have also attached the Cube Root Quick Score Calculation guidance that details the cube root method used this year for all grades.

Proficiency Levels:
What are the proficiency level ranges for Below Basic, Basic, Proficient, and Advanced for the various assessments? How do these ranges compare to previous years?

The equating tables for 3-8 achievement and EOCs are posted online, and they show the scale score ranges for each performance level.  These scale score ranges are the same for 2015 as they were in 2014.


The fact that teachers, districts, parents, and communities are having difficulty getting timely and adequate answers from the State Department of Education should be very concerning. It certainly makes things look fishy.

Next Up: High School EOC Cut Scores, Predicted Scores, and Misuse in Teacher Data

TN House IEA Bill (Special Ed Vouchers)

These are notes from the final House debate on the IEA bill (sometimes called IEP vouchers), on April 22, 2015, and is not meant to serve as minutes or a full transcript.

A list of those voting for and against is available at the bottom of the page.


Representative Calfee asks whether this is a voucher bill.
Representative Moody says it is not.

Calfee asks whether there is a list of approved vendors.
Moody says there is no list of approved vendors.

Calfee asks about established rules for vendors
There is no list of rules for vendors. The sponsor, Moody, says she “believes there will be” rules.

Calfee: “Is there a plan, for when the child returns to the school system, and the money has been spent?”
Moody says that giving the money in quarterly installments will solve that.

Representative Matthew Hill Notes that it comes out to $550 per month – and that you “cannot get hardly any services” for that.

Hill spoke with a parent who is spending $20,000 per year, out of pocket, in ADDITION to public school services. He is concerned that parents will see this as a “golden ticket” and take students out, later returning to the school system, and causing the child to possibly regress in their therapy.

Moody says 1-5% of eligible students choose to use the program… noting statistics, studies… but NEVER says that anything shows how it impacts the CHILDREN.

Questions about how these disabilities in the list were chosen.
Moody says Gresham’s research analyst chose the 7 disabilities listed.

Was the health department consulted? No.

Several from Moody’s party are saying things like: “You’re my friend, and I support you, but I can’t support this bill.”

Representative Roger Kane calls this bill a “supplemental health plan.”

Representative Harry Brooks discusses mainstreaming. He says that sometimes the child is in an exclusive environment, and sometimes he/she is slowly moved from an exclusive environment to a less exclusive environment. Brooks says that he knows a parent who is traveling from Knoxville to Nashville, daily, for services. He says that, for services that are not offered, under IDEA, the parent can sue to get those services… and he wants to give that money to the parents, to avoid lawsuits for the LEAs!

[It sounds like Brooks would rather have parents sign away their rights, under IDEA, than either give them the resources they need, or risk a lawsuit for the school district.]

Representative Andy Holt: “This is a great opportunity, for two classes of people…” parents, students, and those who have been called into this ministry, of working with these students.

Representative Hulsey asks what parents are waiving.
Moody can’t answer him.
Rep Roger Kane begins reading the bill out loud.

Representative Joe Pitts – asks HOW individual buying power allows a parent to get more services than as part of a group.
Moody says that it is because parents will look far and wide.

Pitts is concerned that we are subjecting our most vulnerable citizens to predatory companies, since parents are also required to waive their rights, under IDEA.

Moody’s answer is that they will be sure “that kind of company” doesn’t get on the approved list, although she doesn’t have an approved list.

Representative Courtney Rogers (Goodlettville) compares public schools to “State control” and says that she has seen more freedom in her studies, as a Soviet analyst.

Representative Forgety is reminded of a country song: “There ain’t no good guys; there ain’t no bad guys, and we just disagree.” He talks about the law that requires inclusion and mainstreaming, and research showing that students flourish, when they are included. He says that parents know best, and that is why the law includes the IEP, with parents as the major player in that process

Forgety notes that the program in Florida has NO data on students in a similar program and that has no accountability.

Moody says that teachers are “very frustrated, working with these children,” and that teachers say the students would do better in another setting.
[What a terrible characterization of teachers.]


Passed 52. Nay 43.

Ayes – 52

Brooks, H.
Brooks, K.
Hill, T.
Sexton, J.
Van Huss
White, D.
White, M.
Speaker Harwell

NOES – 43

Hill, M.
Present, not voting: 0
Not voting:      4        Harrison         Lamberth         Jernigan,         E. Sexton, C.


Some Knox County Board of Education members have recently said that they have never heard of the Broad Foundation, which is odd, because

  1. The community has been telling the Board about Broad since 2010
  2. The KCS superintendent’s “credentials” are from Broad
  3. Several “Broad Fellows” have been hired as employees of the KCS BOE
  4. It has been all over education news outlets and social media – for YEARS

Did I mention that we have been telling them???

If your BOE member is one who has been ignoring the community for the past 5 years, I doubt this information will help them. However, sharing this information with others will help replace those folks on the Board with candidates who actually pay attention to what is happening in their school system!


The following is paraphrased from the original, which can be found here:
How to Tell if Your School District is Infected by the Broad Virus

You might have the “Broad Virus” if your district sees:

  • Repeated use of the terms “excellence,” “best practices,” & “data-driven decisions.” (& noted absence of same)
  • False or cherry-picked “data,” used to justify reforms.
  • A culture of fear of reprisal
  • Ballooning of the central office along side painful cuts to classrooms.
  • Sudden increase in number of paid outside consultants
  • Teachers referred to as “human capital” – not people, educators, or staff and not allowed to be creative, passionate, inspired, but merely “effective”
  • Excessive testing introduced & imposed on kids
  • “Broad Residents” ($90,000 ea) appear in strategically important positions
  • Superintendent behaves as if he is beyond reproach.
  • The superintendent has the highest salary ever paid to a superintendent (plus benefits & car) & community is told it is a “competitive rate for a city this size”
  • Superintendent bypasses board & keeps them out of the loop on issues
  • School board candidates receive unprecedented amounts of campaign money from business interests. [or the governor’s family…]

More information is available below: 

A Parent Guide to the Broad Foundation’s Training Programs & Education Policies by Parents Across America (pdf factsheet).
Broad Foundation’s Plan to Expand Influence in School Reform
Meet the Broad Superintendents
Momma Bears Diagnosis:  How to tell if your School District is infected by the Gates-Broad-Walton Virus
The Broad Report