Tennessee Academic Standards & Readiness Tests
The Tennessee Department of Education provides Academic Standards which are a common set of expectations for what students will know and be able to do at the end of a grade for each subject area. Tennessee state’s standards are based on the knowledge and skills students need to succeed in their post-secondary studies and/or careers.
Every six years, these standards are reviewed by the Tennessee Board of Education and changes are made to ensure student academic progress. To learn more about the standards review process, leave feedback on the revised standards, or submit questions please visit the state board’s standards review website.
State Tests: Tennessee Comprehensive Assessment Program (TCAP)
TCAP is the Tennessee Department of Education’s assessment system, which includes a variety of assessments mandated by the state and administered through the schools. Below are the more common TCAP assessments. Visit the Student Assessment in Tennessee for more information.
- Access to ELLs: WIDA’s ACCESS for ELLs assessment is for English learners (ELs) in grades K-12. This assessment measures English language proficiency levels with respect to the WIDA ELP Standards and is used as one criterion to determine when ELs have attained the language proficiency needed to participate meaningfully in content area.
- ACT: TCAP includes two school day state administrations of the ACT, one in the spring for all 11th graders and one in the fall for any 12th graders. The ACT measures what students have learned throughout high school and is a WCS graduation requirement. The test also assesses post-secondary academic preparedness, and colleges and universities use results to make acceptance and placement decisions.
- Alternative Assessments: TCAP alternate assessments are for students with the most significant cognitive disabilities whom participation in the typical state assessment is inappropriate, even with the use of extensive accommodations. These assessments measure standards in English/language arts, mathematics, science, and social studies for grades 3-8. Students in high school must complete one science assessment in their sophomore year and one English and one mathematics assessment their junior year.
- National Assessment for Educational Progress: NAEP is a national assessment of what America’s students know and can do in various subject areas, and its results serve as a common metric for all states and selected urban districts. Assessments are conducted periodically through sampling in mathematics, reading, science, writing, the arts, civics, economics, geography, US history, and technology and engineering literacy.
- Achievement Tests: TCAP Achievement Tests for grades 3-5 measure student performance against specific state standards in English/Language Arts, mathematics, and science. These paper/pencil assessments are administered in the spring semester and are not used for grades. Tests for grades 6-8 also include social studies, are online assessments administered in the spring semester, and account for 10% of the 2nd semester grade.
- End of Course Exams: TCAP EOCs measure student performance against specific state standards in the high school courses Algebra I/II, Biology, English I/II, Geometry, and US History. These online assessments are administered in the spring semester. Scores from these assessments account for 15% of the 2nd semester grade.
College Readiness Test
WCS provides students the opportunity to participate in several assessments administered by third-party vendors to measure college readiness. While not required by the state or district, many students want to participate for reasons such as scholarship opportunities, post-secondary admission requirements, and college course credit.
- ACT Testing: While the state’s TCAP system includes its own administration of the ACT, there are several other national testing dates for ACT throughout the year. Students often choose to participate on one of these dates to include the writing portion of the ACT (which is not available during the TCAP administration). Students can also use these dates to retake the ACT for a higher score, increasing post-secondary opportunities. Learn more and register for the ACT Test for Students.
- Advanced Placement (AP): Students enrolled in college-level AP courses in high school may choose to take the corresponding AP subject exams in the spring to assess their mastery of the content. Success on these AP exams leads to opportunities for earning college credit or advanced standing at most post-secondary institutions. Registration for AP exams is handled at the school level. Contact the school’s designated AP Coordinator for information about scheduling and fees or visit The College Board AP Courses and Exams to learn more.
- Preliminary SAT (PSAT)/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (NMSQT): The Preliminary SAT (PSAT) is part of The College Board’s SAT Suite of Assessments that specifically targets students in 10th and 11th grade and tests what has been learned and what is needed to succeed in college. Students that take the test in the 11th grade can also use the PSAT as the NMSQT, an academic competition for recognition and scholarships. Registration for PSAT is handled at the school level. Contact the school’s designated PSAT Coordinator for information about scheduling and fees or visit The College Board PSAT to learn more and prepare for the test.
- SAT: The SAT is the capstone test of The College Board’s SAT Suite of Assessments. Similar to the ACT, the SAT assesses post-secondary academic preparedness that colleges and universities use to make acceptance and placement decisions. Students typically choose to participate when applying for scholarships or to schools that either do not accept the ACT or simply prefer the SAT. Learn more and register for one of the SAT’s national testing dates.
District assessments are not part of TCAP and are administered at the discretion of WCS. In some cases, the state mandates students are to be tested for a particular purpose but the district has flexibility in how to test those students. Other district assessments are required by local policy or administrative directive.
- Assessment of Performance toward Proficiency in Languages (AAPPL): The American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL) produces a language assessment called AAPPL, or the ACTFL Assessment of Performance toward Proficiency in Languages. Students in world language courses are expected to participate in AAPPL to assess modes of communication in their respective language. AAPPL is provided by the district.
Benchmark Assessments: The district administers benchmark assessments at the end of each quarter to students in grades 1-12. The purpose of these formative assessments is to check the progress of students’ content mastery so that any needed adjustments can be made before summative assessments. The district benchmarks are given online as a Performance Matters assessment.
- Civics Test: State law requires students to pass a civics test as a graduation requirement. While this test must be based on items from the US Citizenship Test, how and when it is administered is a district decision. WCS chooses to administer its version of the civics test to 11th graders during their specific US history course. The test is given online as a Performance Matters (formerly called Unify) assessment.
- Semester Exams: District policy requires comprehensive exams at the end of each semester for all high school courses as well as all core courses in grade 8. All semester exams are constructed by teacher teams at the school level except for those courses that require a state TCAP for the final exam.
- Universal Screening/STAR/aimswebPlus: The state requires districts to universally screen students as part of its Response to Instruction and Intervention system, and WCS uses aimswebPlus in grades K-5 and STAR assessments in grades 6-10 to meet that requirement. The purpose of these assessments is to provide a data snapshot of a student’s current performance at three points during the school year and, in some cases, progress throughout the school year, in a variety of academic areas using national norms as comparison points without a large sacrifice of instructional time.