ELIZABETHTON — The Carter County School Board unanimously approved funding for end-of-term testing for all county kindergarten and first-grade students this academic year. The vote came after a lengthy discussion Thursday about the need for testing in the earliest grades.
The board took the action after the Tennessee Board of Education announced it would fund testing for second-grade students this year. The school board decided the testing should be extended to all students in the system and designated $26,425 in Central Office capital outlay funds to enable the testing to take place this year for first-grade and kindergarten students. In recent years, end-of-term exams have been limited to students in grades 3-12.
Although the funding was a one-time designation, board member David Buck asked if the lower-grade testing might become a recurring expenditure.
“I feel if we incorporate testing all the way down to kindergarten we will be locked in from now on,” Buck said.
Director of Schools Shirley Ellis said even one year of testing would be helpful to the system because the results could be used to establish a data baseline. She said a new core curriculum has been established and the testing would show how subjects were being covered.
“Testing is a tool for improvement,” board member Don Julian said. He said in order to improve, the system had to address its weaknesses, and the way to find weaknesses was to test.
The testing results could also be used to establish an evaluation base for lower elementary teachers. That was not available for teachers in third grade and below when there was no end-of-term testing at the lowest grades.
Elementary Supervisor Dan Winters said that was important as the evaluations shift to the Tennessee Value-Added Assessment System.
In other matters, the board approved a $14,995 reduction in funding from federal sources. The budget amendment was required by a cut in the federal budget. Federal Projects and Testing Director Jerri Beth Nave said the cuts she made will not have an impact on school programs. She said the cuts were restricted to the administrative level.
The federal cuts did have an impact on spending earlier in the school year. Nave said she learned there would be cuts, but the exact amount was not known for several weeks. In such a situation, she had to prepare for the worst contingency and restricted discretionary spending until the amount of the cuts were known.
The board delayed action on approving bids on the construction of a new sign for the front of the Central Office. The delay was made so that it could be discussed at a workshop session set for Dec. 7 at 3 p.m.