Tennessee Middle Schools Nix Graded Homework, Extra Credit In Hopes Of Improving TCAP Scores

In an effort to improve scores on the Tennessee Comprehensive Assessment Program, Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools are scrapping extra credit and graded homework for middle schoolers, WSMV reports.

Administrators are hopeful these measures will allow for better confirmation that students have actually mastered the material they are being taught. Under the new system, students will also have the opportunity to retake tests if they do not perform up to par the first time around.

"We are allowing students who may not do well on an assessment to have an opportunity for more practice, to have more intervention with teachers to go back and say, 'I learned something different from the first time to the second time. My mastery level is higher,'" Amy Downey of Metro Schools told WSMV.

Although extra credit is now a thing of the past, grades will also not be reduced for behavioral issues. Meanwhile, homework is intended solely for practice and will not have any effect on a student’s grades.

WSMV reports some parents have expressed concerns about accountability, though the district maintains that if anything, the new system promotes more work, not less, because if a student does not comprehend the material, he or she will have to work harder until they understand.

JFK Middle School Principal Sam Braden says the changes represent a way to ensure students are fully prepared for TCAPs and for the future, adding that so far teachers and students have been offering positive feedback.

According to the Tennessee Department of Education, performance on the 2012 TCAP improved significantly in school districts across the state. Nearly all of Tennessee’s 136 districts saw proficiency levels increase, and two-thirds improved in every subject of the TCAP Achievement tests administered to students in grades 3-8.

In Maryland, Gaithersburg Elementary School scrapped homework entirely in favor of suggested reading time after the school’s staff determined the majority of homework assignments were worksheets that did not relate to what students were studying in the classroom.

At Connecticut’s High School in the Community, students assign themselves their own homework, learn at their own pace and take tests only when they’re ready. The turnaround school reportedly adopted this new method in an effort to end the factory “assembly line” of high school education.

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