Academics and Accountability

School Curriculum and TN State Testing

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.

Tennessee has adopted high-quality state standards. The Tennessee Department of Education Website has resources that include all information about the TNReady standards and assessments:

Reading 360
The state of Tennessee has a literacy program named Reading 360 to help more students develop basic phonics-based reading skills. Resources are available to districts to help teachers and families in this effort. Detailed information is available at the following link:

You can also find information on social media at the hashtag #Reading 360.

Student Testing and Advancement

Because there have been many changes regarding assessment in Tennessee, the following link is a critically important resource for families to check regarding the 2021-22 TCAP/TNReady assessments.

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 2021-22 will be administered during a three-week window between April 18 and May 6, 2022. The first subpart of the ELA assessment, which includes the writing prompt, will be administered during the first week of the assessment window because it is scored by hand. For high school fall block, there will also be an assessment window from November 29 through December 16, 2021.

*Some grades and subject area assessments may be offered online. The commissioner will make a final determination regarding which assessments may be included after results of the Spring 2021 Online Verification Test are analyzed.

Grades K-1

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

Grade 2

Students in second grade may take the optional Tennessee-specific second-grade assessment. Districts that elect to give the optional test will offer it as a paper and pencil test during the same three-week window used for Grades 3-11.

Grades 3-8

Students in grades 3-8 will take assessments in mathematics, and English Language Arts (ELA) and science. Grades 6-8 will also be assessed in social studies. Details about social studies for grades 3-5 is forthcoming. Updates can be found at the following link:

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 the science field tests. There is no social studies assessment this year.

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
  • Algebra I/Geometry/Algebra II, or Integrated Math I/II/III
  • U.S. History and Geography
  • Biology

Testing Dates document:

Guidance on Writing Tasks, Grades 4-EOC

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:

  • Achievement Test/ELSA (English Linguistically Simplified Assessment) [grades 3-8]*
  • World -Class Instructional Design Assessment (WIDA)** [Replaces ELDA]
  • TNReady ELA, mathematics assessments, and social studies for grades 6-8
  • ACT or SAT is required for all Juniors

Your child will begin taking the TNReady assessments in third grade and each year through eighth grade. Grades 3-5 Social Studies assessments are currently paused and will resume at a later time. In high school, students take end-of-course assessments in U.S. History, Biology I. TNReady assessments are given in English I, English II, Integrated Math I/II/III, Algebra I, Geometry, Algebra II.

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.

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

English Learners (ELs) are assessed annually with ACCESS 2.0, an assessment developed by WIDA. The 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: