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Shelby County Schools says big change is new testing assessment

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. --  Administrators at Shelby County Schools said they are ready to go.

The first day of class is Monday. The district said it expects some hiccups on the first couple days of school, but it has worked over the summer to keep those to a minimum.

Getting students in class and ready to learn as soon as possible has always been important, but this year it is even more critical.

SCS, along with other school districts in Tennessee, has done away with the Tennessee Comprehensive Assessment Program to use the state-mandated Common Core assessment called TNReady.

"There will be some challenges with that, namely many of our schools do not have the optimal amount of technology," Superintendent Dorsey Hopson said.

Common Core is a national assessment that details what students grade by grade should know.

The district is still installing computer equipment needed for testing.

"Our hope is to have a lot more of these devices in our buildings in the next couple of weeks so students have time to practice using the technology readying for the assessment," SCS' Heidi Ramirez said.

Durham School Services has been running test routes to see that Shelby County School students are picked up and dropped off safely and on time.

Hopson said he does not want the problems he saw last year when students were stranded at bus stops and got to school late.

"The good news from their standpoint is they are 105 percent staffed this year," Hopson said. "Last year they had some challenges staffing."

He said the other recurring problem has been truancy. School security officers have been knocking on doors the last couple of weeks.

"We target about 1,100 students with a history of being chronically truant," Hopson said. "We made about 700 phone calls. Visited about 100 homes."

The district has also opened a new parent welcome center at the Board of Education.

It's a one-stop shop for parents with questions, and it will stay open all year long.

The recent storm knocked out power to some schools, but the district said utilities are being restored and there should be no problem Monday morning.

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