State to trim science, social studies testing, increase reading assessments

MILAN, Tenn. — Third and fourth graders across the state will now be tested more on reading and less on science and social studies.

State Education Commissioner Candice McQueen made the announcement Wednesday in a blog post.

Increasing reading proficiency across the state has been a major focus for the commissioner, so this didn’t come as a surprise to some educators.

Superintendent of Milan Special Schools Jonathan Criswell said his district is welcoming the literacy focus.

“It’s not that we don’t want our students to understand the science that is all around us, or the history of our country — it’s that we want them to leave elementary school being literate,” he said.

He said the commissioner’s proposal is right on target and will help students prepare for the TCAP test.

“Projections are showing in our state students need to be reading at least one level above what they are right now, to score well on our TCAP test,” he said.

Criswell isn’t the only educator welcoming the added literacy focus.

“If we create successful readers, we are going to create successful students throughout their educational careers,” fourth grade reading teacher Susan Badgett said.

She said doing well in other subjects starts with good reading skills.

“We teach science and social studies through our reading — how to understand a concept, the main idea and what the point is of a more difficult concept,” Badgett said.

Commissioner McQueen also said the state will continue to explore what it will take to streamline 11th grade exams.

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