Academics and Accountability


School Curriculum
Many people get the term curriculum confused with the term standards. Tennessee has had state learning standards for many years. They have been updated over the years by teams of teachers from all three geographical divisions of the state. The curriculum is the learning plan that your child’s teacher uses to ensure that the state standards are covered and learned by your child with materials that are grade-level appropriate to the subject.

The TNReady and TCAP tests that students take during the year assess the grade-level standards for certain courses; they do not assess the curriculum per se. Thus, throughout the year, curriculum lessons are taught using the state standards as a guide to the basic skills and knowledge requirements set forth in the state standards; then the TNReady/TCAP assesses the level of learning and the growth in learning since the previous year.

In 2014-15, Tennessee opted to develop its own standards equal in rigor and quality to the Common Core State Standards. These standards are called Tennessee Ready (TNReady) standards.

The Tennessee Department of Education has created a site that includes all information about the TNReady standards and assessments:

Tennessee Ready Assessments (TNReady) and Tennessee Comprehensive Assessment Program (TCAP) Testing

Student Testing and Advancement

Because there are many changes regarding assessment expected during the early months of the 2016-17 schools year, the most important document for families to access regarding TCAP/TNReady assessments in Tennessee can be obtained at this link:

For many years, the state assessment in Tennessee has consisted of multiple choice items for grades 3 through 11, once a year in core subjects (English Language Arts, Reading, Mathematics, Social Studies, and Science). There has also been an online writing assessment in February for Grades 3-11.

While all of these subjects are still assessed, some of the tests have changed, some have not changed.

State assessments in 2016-17 will be administered during a three-week window between April 17 and May 5, 2017. The first subpart of the ELA assessment, which includes the writing prompt, will be administered during the first week of the assessment window. For high school fall block, there will also be an assessment window from November 28 through December 16, 2016.

Online test administration will phase in over several years to ensure success with technology readiness. For grades 3-8, 2016-17 assessments will be administered using paper and pencil. For high school End of Course exams in mathematics, ELA, and U.S. History, the state department will work with the test vendor Questar to provide an online option if the testing platform shows early evidence of successful implementation in schools.

The annual TCAP mathematics and English assessments for grades 3-12 have been replaced with the TNReady mathematics and English assessments. All items are based on Tennessee’s TNReady standards.


Grades K-1

Students in kindergarten and first grade do not take traditional, standardized state assessments.

Grade 2

A new, optional Tennessee-specific second-grade assessment will be operational in spring 2017. It will be offered as a paper and pencil test.

Grades 3-8

Students in grades 3-9 will take assessments in mathematics, English Language Arts (ELA), and science. There will be no operational social studies test for these grades in 2016-17; there will be a field test for these grades this year.

Students with the most significant cognitive disabilities (about one percent of the student population) will take the MSAA for ELA and mathematics, and the TCAP Alternative Assessment for social studies and science.

Some middle school students will take End of Course (EOC) assessments if they are enrolled in high school courses (see list below).

High School

High school students will take End of Course (EOC) assessments if enrolled in the following courses:

  • English I/II/III
  • Algebra I/Geometry/Algebra II, or Integrated Math I/II/III
  • S. History
  • Chemistry
  • Biology

More information can be found on the State Department’s FAQ sheet:

TCAP stands for Tennessee Comprehensive Assessment Program. The test development is overseen by the Tennessee State Department of Education along with Tennessee teachers and other state curriculum experts. Every student enrolled in Tennessee schools must take the assessment. Tennessee is an English only state; all assessments are provided in English only.

The TCAP currently includes

The results of these examinations can be factored into the student’s grade at a percentage determined by the State Board of Education in accordance with T.C.A. §49-1-302 (2). Tennessee law provides districts the option to exclude TNReady scores from a student’s final grade if the scores are not received at least five days before the school year ends. As the new assessment is to be given via paper and pencil, scores inclusion may or may not occur in 2016-17.

2016-17 Social Studies Assessments

New assessments in social studies and U.S. History will begin in the 2016-17 school year. See more at:

English Learner Student Assessments/ World-Class Instructional Design and Assessment (WIDA)


WIDA results will help guide decisions regarding student participation in content area classrooms without program support and state academic content assessments without accommodations. This assessment will also provide districts with information to aid in evaluating the effectiveness of EL programs. English Learner (EL) Assessments are addressed at the following Department of Education link:

Additional Information:

Tools and Resources links:

Assessment blueprints are designed to show educators a summary of what will be assessed in each grade, including the approximate number of items that will address each standard. Blueprints also detail which standards will be assessed on TNReady. The blueprints in the following link were updated for the 2016-17 assessments:

Links to Samplers and Practice Tests:

Materials for parents will also be available in the coming weeks to help families prepare, such as a parent guide, checklist, sample test questions, practice tools, and information about results and timing, as well as links to more information about testing time, accommodations, and accessibility resources.

World-Class Instructional Design and Assessment (WIDA)
Beginning in the 2014-15 school year, the department will transition from the ELDA assessment for EL students to the ACCESS for ELs assessment in order to determine English Language Proficiency Levels. This move will provide valuable results that serve as one criterion to aid in determining language proficiency for ELs. WIDA results will help guide decisions regarding student participation in content area classrooms without program support and state academic content assessments without accommodations. This assessment will also provide districts with information to aid in evaluating the effectiveness of EL programs.