Elizabethton Schools preparing for new state exams

John Thompson • Updated Oct 20, 2015 at 8:47 PM

ELIZABETHTON — The Elizabethton City School System has been busy this month preparing its students for the new TNReady testing program, the state’s new comprehensive assessment program.

“This is a huge transition year,” said Eddie Pless, director of testing, data and early learning services for the school system. Pless briefed the board on the efforts being made to prepare the students for the new exams. To keep parents informed of the changes, he said each elementary school will host a parent night to inform them of the transition and what the parents can do to help their children.

Pless said the TNReady testing this year will involve English language arts and mathematics for the first time. He said the social studies test that was built in last year will continue. Pless said all of the testing will be done online.

To prepare the students, Pless said October has been designated a month for taking practice tests. He said January and March will also be months for practice. Pless said the practices are being done not only to prepare the students for the material being tested, but also in using a computer to take the tests. He said there are some things on the computer that could cause delays and anxiety for the students.

Board member Susan Peters asked Pless if all the elementary students had access to laptops to practice. He answered that all students have access to computers, but don’t have their own devices. He said a large number of tablets that were bought a few years ago for a different testing platform are being reprogramed to work and will be made available once converted.

Director of Schools Corey Gardenhour said the month has been very productive. “Our teachers are really focusing on standards ... and making a positive impact on our students.”

Randy Little, principal at T.A. Dugger Junior High School repeated the same message, saying the school is “fully entrenched in our new testing platform.” Little said there have been a few minor glitches, such as a statewide outage of the testing program for a while on Tuesday.

In a physical plant report, Pat Breeding, consultant with the construction services company of Goins, Rash and Cain, gave an update on the football stadium completion and a status report on construction of the music room. Breeding said construction is obviously complete on the stadium since several games have already been played in the stadium. He said there are still a few items to complete on the punch list.

Breeding said construction on the music room “is clicking along” and the next stage is to get the roof on the building.

Breeding said working on the stadium was a very good experience for him and he praised the teamwork involved. He said $185,000 was saved on the project.

In other matters, the board approved tenure for Kristen Cannon, Amber Ebarb, Kristen Grindstaff, Tammy Markland, Sara Snavely, Marsha Taylor, Carla Whiles and Emilee Whitehead.

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