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TN required testing -location?

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In Tennessee, standardized testing is required at certain grade levels. This coming year will be my first time dealing with this. If you do not want to do the TN TCAP tests, the state legislature provides for alternate testing.

From https://www.tn.gov/education/school-options/home-schooling-in-tn.html

"Yes, there is an option outlined below in TCA § 49-6-3050 which would allow for a home school student to take a test other than the TCAP or End of Course Assessments.  The law states: (5)  (A) Administration by the commissioner of education, or the commissioner's designee, or by a professional testing service that is approved by the LEA, to home school students of the same state board approved secure standardized tests required of public school students in grades five (5), seven (7) and nine (9); (ii) Tests administered by a professional testing service shall be administered within thirty (30) days of the date of the statewide test. Tests administered by a professional testing service shall be administered at the expense of the parent-teacher; (iii) All test results from either administration by the commissioner or the commissioner's designee, or by a professional testing service, shall be provided to the parent-teacher, the director of schools and the state board of education; So the test would need to be standardized, administered by a professional testing service within 30 days of the statewide assessments, and the results provided to the LEA for review."

I have been contacting people in the public educational system and the only place they have said alternate testing can be done is at Sylvan. Sylvan says they made a policy change nationwide this year to longer offer test proctoring.

So far, I have emailed 1) the Homeschool Coordinator for my county, 2) the Homeschool Coordinator for the state, 3) the Testing Coordinator for my school, 4) the Director of Assessment Program Management for the state. All of them say to do the test at Sylvan, despite me telling them Sylvan says this is not an option. Sylvan specifically requested their business be removed from the TN education documents listing them as a testing proctor. They have been trying for months to be removed, but they can't seem to get anyone in the Department of Education to do so.

Who should I contact next to get this sorted? State legislature? Governor's office? Someone further up the ladder at the Department of Education? I can't believe none of the state education people listed above tried to discuss the issue with their boss, since this will be impacting quite a few students in the spring. I'm also disappointed that they allowed a single business to be their only source for something that is required by the state.

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I used cover school so I never had to deal with the testing.  I've even heard there's no penalty for not taking it if you don't use cover school.  However, I was a proctor for a family that was not using cover school.  Our LEA allowed the use of the Stanford 10. Officially the testing provider was BJU with me as administrator. (and I'm not the same religious flavor as bju either).  Maybe you could find someone (or yourself if you have bachelors) and do testing that way and send it to the officials.  Other test providers that could be used can be on Abeka, or Seton Homeschool.  There are others and some of those are online options too.   But the family I helped was told some expensive option and that wasn't going to work for them in reality.  So family said what about (using BJU with local proctor). 

No clue what you should do about the Sylvan issue at the bigger level. But wanted to share an option for asking which test and a few common testing providers so you can have options for testing if you want and don't use cover school.


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Wow...what a bureaucracy! I'm not in TN, but we are required to test in my state.   If the law doesn't disallow it it, what about online testing service?  We do the MAP Growth test through Homeschool Boss:  https://homeschoolboss.com/

When I submit my annual paperwork, I list them as the "test administrator" and they are definitely a "professional testing service" offering a nationally-normed standardized test.  It's hard to see how that wouldn't meet the legal requirements.

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The document that lists Sylvan as the professional testing service to use also lists the Iowa Tests of Basic Skills as one of the allowable tests. Since that test is no longer offered (Iowa realigned the testing to the new educational standards and Iowa Assessments Form E is the new test), the document clearly needs to be updated:


The homeschool coordinator for the state said that document came from "our testing department", but did not elaborate further.

I think that when the Director of Schools contacts me, I will tell him that my daughter will take the Stanford 10 in my house, unless he can find a professional testing service that can proctor the test. Either way, I'll be satisfied. I'm just sad I haven't able to get the education department to find a global fix before it impacts everyone else needing to do the testing. You would think they'd be grateful someone brought this to their attention so far in advance of spring testing.

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In my opinion you don't have to say it like that.  Instead,  If it were me in this situation, I would inform the Director of Schools  "we're using an approved test administrator for the Stanford 10".  The location (in your home or another site) will not be an issue so I personally would not tell them information that is not required.  They don't need the name of proctor/administrator or testing location.

I also wouldn't personally worry about it if I used the replaced version of IOWA even if a document was not updated with current name.   

Maybe they should be more grateful, but maybe it's so far in the distance for them that they don't realize it.  In our area, there are not a lot of people this impacts because most use cover schools.

on the other hand, you might become the go to person in the spring and be the one to proctor for others.  been there.  (and yes, I'm in TN and graduated all three of mine.)

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me again.  I had a moment to read the  the document you linked.  I noticed it says "such as sylvan" .  and then gives a whole bunch of other ideas that were the same places (and a few more) I mentioned.  Also it says 'four most common tests".  so you're ok to use any of those. 

and for those reading later down the road, this only applies to those who aren't using cover school options.  not the OP's situation.


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I read the document as saying it needs to be done by a professional testing service, with Sylvan being the only one listed. Then it separately lists standardized tests which can be done. It lists Seton and others as "ordering sites", not professional testing services. When I emailed all the people I listed above, I asked them specifically where the test could be done. I would have been fine taking my kid to the local brick and mortar school for the couple days of testing, paying for a proctor (like what Sylvan used to do), or doing it at home. I just wanted clarification, and over and over again, they all said Sylvan. Not once did anyone say I could have her take the test at my house. The people in my county said they have never had anyone do the alternate testing, so this is new territory for them. Still, I would think the state would be able to offer better guidance. Surely I am not the first person ever to make use of this law.

I didn't use a cover school because I had been homeschooling for years before moving to TN, and I didn't see any benefit in a cover school. The independent requirements seemed straightforward at the time, and with Covid we were not going to meet up with anyone in person anyway. We have high academic ambitions and I keep detailed records, so I was not afraid of anyone poking their nose in. I just didn't anticipate outdated guidelines and an unwillingness to update them.

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I'm also in TN and have always been registered as an independent homeschooler.  My kids have usually tested at our local zoned school, but I also had no trouble getting the LEA to accept a different standardized test done at a local private school.   

I just dug through my email inbox and FWIW here's the email I sent to the homeschool coordinator that year.  She forwarded it on to the district testing official, who immediately sent me an email back saying he'd make a note of the change. Months later when we got the results I sent them on with an accompanying note. It was all very easy.  


Dear Ms. XXX:

My son XXX is an independent home schooler registered with XXPS.  He is in the 5th grade 
this year and is scheduled to take the TN Ready test at our local zoned school, as required.

However, we recently received the testing dates and unfortunately we have an immovable 
conflict on two of the scheduled days.  As per the option for alternative testing outlined in 
TCA 49-6-3050, I have arranged for my son to test at a local private school, at my expense.
They will be administering the CTP exam ( https://www.erblearn.org/services/ctp-overview , 
which is a comprehensive, nationally normed test that includes language arts and mathematics, 
among other subjects.

The testing will be administered during the week of May 13, and I can send your office 
confirmation that my son has completed the tests.  I will also send the results when I 
receive them.

Could you please confirm for me that this will satisfy our testing requirements 
for this year?  Of course, please let me know if you need any additional information 
or have further questions.

Thank you very much,


Our local homeschool office is very responsive and the testing official - with whom I've spoken on other occasion -- is extremely on-the-ball.  However, the guidelines are outdated in many ways, the state legislature and dept of ed have zero interest in updating them, and the whole bureaucracy is generally overwhelmed.  IME the LEA people just want to be able to plausibly approve whatever it is that you are doing and get your paperwork off their desk ASAP.  So I would recommend coming up with a testing plan that is reasonably legit and then sending a polite letter explaining what you're going to do.  I seriously doubt that anyone will have the bandwidth to give you a hard time.

Edited by JennyD
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liking JennyD's above.  

I moved here from a state without cover school too.   Nothing at all wrong with doing the independent legal option. wanted to make sure I said that.

oh blush. now I see where we read the document differently now that you said all of that.   What they call ordering sites are actually professional testing services.  But unless one knows that already it's not as clear as it could be.   yep. that document needs work for clarity.

some other little things I've learned along the way if any of this helps you or not:

1. to order from most of those , you need to select a test administrator in your area or become a test administrator.  Rules for that vary.  I'm not bju or abeka or seton's religions, but am approved through all three.  Easy to do that.  Set up for homeschoolers to do this. I'm not familiar with the riverside one to know anything.   But those businesses are professional testing services. And they are the ones who approve administrators.

2. some of them have online or other at home options. others don't.

3. if you need standardized results for things like honor societies or clubs or outside groups, you'll most likely need someone else to be the test administrator even if done in your house.   You might even do that for the state legal side. but  I'm not a lawyer.

sorry you have to deal with the LEA's lack of knowledge and the state's confusing wording.


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