MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Governor Lee announced the Suspension of Accountability Measures for this school year, but he made it clear he is letting local authorities make their own decisions when it comes to guidelines and regulations in schools.
Lee said statewide mandates, are not effective, despite teachers' pleas.
Local leaders are thanking the governor for this change.
Friday during a conference call, Lee announced the suspension of negative consequences associated with student assessments this year.
Governor Bill Lee and Education Commissioner Penny Schwinn called for the Temporary Suspension of Accountability Measures for this school year in Tennessee.
“At this time, it’s most important that our teachers have a clear runway to focus on delivering solutions to students that need to grow academically,” Lee said.
Commissioner Lisa Piercey with the Tennessee Department of Health was also part of the call and touched on the rise of COVID-19 cases and the concern with rural counties.
“As you’ve heard me say and the Governor say many times, we are seeing much more penetration of this virus in our rural communities,” Piercey said.
Governor Lee went on to say it’s important to know where students stand and therefore student assessments will be conducted as planned.
“Despite the nature of the year I think it’s really important that we understand exactly where our kids are,” Lee said.
Lee also noted that federal funding is attached to testing students but says knowing where students stand is the most important.
The superintendent for Shelby County Schools Dr. Joris Ray said in a statement quote, “We applaud the Governor’s response to temporarily suspend accountability measures for 2020-2021 school year” and said they owe it to students to remove the high stakes of state testing"
State Representative London Lamar also thanked the Governor for putting a pause on the accountability measures.
“We want to give them grace during this time of a pandemic to figure out how to best move forward for the following school year,” Lamar said.
Governor Lee said the students' assessments that will be conducted will be reviewed to see what changes need to be made to help students as they navigate through this new normal.
“Lee needs to show up for me and for teachers like me across the state,” Katheryn Vaughn, Tipton County Teacher at Brighton Elementary, said.
Wednesday, Vaughn called on Governor Lee to issue a statewide mask mandate due to cases rising. Governor Lee expressed statewide mandates are not effective.
“Local decision making is the most effective way to make decisions and that statewide one size fits all mandates are not as effective in many cases as local decision making,” Lee said.
Lee went on to say he does encourage people to use face masks.
“Raise the level of awareness that people take personal responsibility that people understand that wearing a mask is a very important thing to do,” Lee said.
Tipton County Schools mask mandate expired on Oct. 9 and when students return to school after the fall break on Oct. 19 masks will be optional.