Tennessee state Rep. Andy Holt’s (R) attempt to take a state-mandated test along with eighth grade students is over for now, being blocked by both the state department of education and the Obion County school district’s administration.
Holt announced Thursday that he would join students at Hillcrest Elementary School in Troy, Tennessee for the online practice test for the new English language arts assessment that will be officially administered in 2016, reports the Knoxville News Sentinel. The test – called TNReady – will replace the Tennessee Comprehensive Assessment Program (TCAP) for grades 3 through 11.
“I have received phone calls from teachers all across Northwest Tennessee that are very upset with the new standardized tests our children are required to take,” Holt said Thursday. “I received a phone call from an eighth-grade level-five English and language arts teacher that says she tried to take the sixth-grade exam and struggled to pass the exam herself…You have a level-five teacher with years of experience, and when she says it’s way off the chart for her class, I think she’s the expert.”
On Friday morning, however, Holt said he was contacted by Tennessee Education Commissioner Candice McQueen who advised him not to participate in the testing. Holt explained he declined McQueen’s request but then received a call from the Obion County Schools administration informing him that he would not be permitted to take the test at the school.
— Andrea Zelinski (@andreazelinski) October 30, 2015
Holt posted on his Facebook page on Friday:
You know, when you block an elected official from addressing the concerns of parents and teachers, you’ve validated every single concern that parents and teachers have. This is why people do not trust their government. Who can blame them? SHARE to spread the word! If they don’t want to allow me in the school to address the concerns of teachers and parents, and do what I was asked to do, then that’s fine for today. However, these teachers and parents will know that someone is there representing them. Even if I stand outside by myself for two hours, I’ll be there to talk with any teacher, parent and anyone else that shows up. I’m not afraid of standing alone.
Holt posted later Friday evening, “Parents, please keep in mind that they are only doing what the Department of Education makes them do.”
“I just think it’s unfortunate that unelected bureaucrats think they know better than teachers and those they elected to represent them,” he added.
Tennessee was one of the 46 states that adopted the now controversial Common Core standards. Despite significant pushback from parents and teachers, Gov. Bill Haslam (R) is a supporter of the standards and signed a bill that essentially rebrands them.
In March of 2014, Haslam appeared with Sen. Lamar Alexander – now chairman of the Senate education committee – and Common Core champion and current 2016 contender Jeb Bush in Nashville at an education roundtable event sponsored by the pro-Common Core Tennessee Chamber of Commerce and Industry and other business groups to urge the state to stay the course with Common Core.