Dayton City School in Rhea County will be the first to try out a new kind of standardized testing set to hit all Tennessee schools next school year.
The major change isn't without some costs, and administering the test demands a lot from Dayton educators. Dayton City School Principal Linda Abel said they will have to buy more than 60 new computers just for the exams.
By next year, students won't take the Tennessee Comprehensive Exam, or TCAP. Instead, they will have the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers, or PARCC, testing, which is entirely online and designed around the Common Core standards.
"It's, I think, a little nerve-wrecking for us, but maybe it gives up a little heads up for what we need to strengthen ourselves in based on the results that we get," said Abel, who added that computer-based testing isn't new to her students.
Abel said teachers will have to test an entire grade level at the same time.
"(We have) to obligate these funds, but we do have quite a bit of help from the state through a grant that they're going to provide 95 percent of the funding for those new computers," said Abel. The remaining five percent of the $45,000 price tag for the new computers will come from the school budget, she said.
The school library will convert into a temporary testing center, and teachers will expand current labs, officials said.
Of the 45 states nationwide that use Common Core, 18 states will field test for the new PARCC assessment. All Tennessee students will have to take the exam in the 2014-2015 school year.
"It's a lot of work for everybody in the state. Our commissioner and our governor have a vision for us to be the fastest improving state in the nation, and we are trying our best to come along with them on that," said Abel.
Educators said they were warned to expect lower scores the first year.
"We've been given a lot to do on a local level, and I feel like our teachers have a big burden on them," said Abel. "We're just trying to keep up the best that we can."
Bids are out for any company that wants to provide the computers, officials said.
Students who are in third through eighth grades will have to take the new PARCC tests, Abel said.By Briona Arradondo