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The Tennessee Comprehensive Assessment Program (TCAP) oversees student assessment in all subject areas as mandated by state law and in fulfillment of federal No Child Left Behind requirements. Within this program are the Achievement Tests/ELSA for students in grades 3-8; the Writing Test, the Constructive Response Tests, the Secondary Assessments and End-of-Course Tests.
Students in grades 3-8 take the TCAP Achievement Tests in the Spring in Reading Language Arts, Mathematics, Science and Social Studies. Some districts may test students, at grade-appropriate level, starting as early as kindergarten. Students will also take the TCAP Writing Assessment in grades 5, 8 and 11. This is an assessment that provides an essay prompt and asks students to create an essay format response. Different grade levels will be expected to write in different formats, appropriate to the age.
The TCAP Achievement Tests in Reading Language Arts, Mathematics, Science and Social Studies are multiple choice tests. There are time limits for the test, however for students who require timing accommodations on a test per an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) those will be provided. These tests are given in late April/early May. These tests are broken up into sections and taken over multiple days. The students are scored on a scale and those results translate into a proficiency level of Basic, Proficient or Advanced.
Students in Tennessee have an organized framework for learning in the Tennessee Curriculum Standards. The content the Standards states should be covered within each subject is aligned to what is tested on the TCAP assessments.
In English/Language Arts students will gain proficiency in: language (vocabulary, grammar, and usage), communication, writing, research, logic, informational texts and literature. Underlying these are sub-skills that students should understand to bolster their ability in each category.
In Mathematics, during K-8 the Mathematics Framework covers: mathematical processes, numbers and operations, algebra, geometry and measurement, and data analysis, probability and statistics. In the high school level, students get a more in depth education in the specific subject – Algebra I, Geometry, etc – and the learning goals of those fields are described for teachers in the frameworks.
In Science, students are expected to learn about inquiry, technology and engineering, life science, earth and space science, and physical science during their K-8 years. In high school, the subject matter does become more specific and the assessments address the content from the course, as aligned to the learning objectives for that content area in the Curriculum Standards.