On Tuesday, Congressman Steve Cohen wrote a letter to Gov. Bill Lee advocating for a TCAP waiver for Crestview students.

Last week, Lee refused to grant a waiver which would excuse those students from standardized testing after their schools were destroyed two weeks ago.

The letter read:


In light of the devastating EF3 tornado that touched down in Covington, Tennessee on March 31, 2023, I request that you waive the Tennessee Comprehensive Assessment Program (TCAP) testing for students in the affected areas, especially in Covington.

As you are aware, several schools were damaged and are currently uninhabitable, including Crestview Middle and Elementary Schools in Covington. These schools can’t be used for the rest of the school year, and approximately 1,200 students will be impacted.

Many of these students not only had their school damaged, but their homes as well. There is a plan to build two temporary structures for education, but the completion will take several weeks.

We all want our students to succeed and be in the best state of mind when taking the TCAP test. Providing as much time as possible to allow these students to recover and readjust to their new learning environments will help them put their best foot forward when taking this standardized test in the future.

Stakes are especially high for third-graders, considering the state’s third-grade retention law, which holds back third-graders who do not receive a high enough TCAP reading score and makes them repeat the grade.

I respectfully encourage you to use your authority to waive the TCAP testing for the impacted students. Thank you for your prompt attention to this important matter.

Lee has sole authority to grant the waiver. His communications director Jade Byers said he’s been working closely with superintendent Dr. John Combs during the decision-making process.

“The administration has worked to support teachers and students impacted by the devastating tornadoes in West Tennessee by offering various waivers and flexibilities for Tipton County schools, including assessment window flexibility for grades 3-8, waiving the use of TCAP scores to determine a student’s grade, and ensuring that TCAP scores won’t impact teacher evaluations,” she said. “Additionally, every impacted student in Tipton County will be eligible for an appeal to a third-grade testing result. The Tennessee Department of Education remains in communication with the local school superintendent, and impacted schools stand ready to assist Tennessee families with the appeals process.”

Crestview students are set to begin TCAP testing on April 25. Middle school students will test at Covington High School and elementary school students will test at Charger Academy.

Seniors and juniors will engage in distance learning while CMS students are testing.

Charger Academy, which housed Pre-Kindergarten through eighth grade students until this school year, will accommodate third through fifth grade students. Kindergarten, first, and second grades will return to school when the temporary facilities are constructed in Cobb Parr Park.

Cohen represents western Tipton County.

Echo Day
Author: Echo Day

Echo Day is an award-winning journalist, photographer and designer. She is currently The Leader's managing editor.