Social Studies/U.S. History

The new content standards for social studies and U.S. history, which were passed by the State Board of Education in July 2013, went into effect during the 2014-15 school year. Students in grades 3-8 social studies and high school U.S. history took a field test based on these standards in spring 2015 and operational testing will begin in the 2015-16 school year.

2015-16 Test

The new assessments in social studies and U.S. History began in the 2015-16 school year. Due to the recent announcement of the termination of the state's assessment contract with Measurement Incorporated, the state is suspending social studies TCAP testing for grades 3-8. High school testing will continue as planned.

Tennessee Social Studies teachers have created a PLC guide created by Tennessee Social Studies teachers to support teachers and districts with potential ways to use the new design documents to support their planning and instruction.

Testing Times

Testing times do not include time needed for coding student demographics or distributing and collecting tests. For each content area, add 5 to 10 minutes for administering the sample test questions and reading introductions and directions.

The time limits are generous and allow most students time to finish. Breaks are recommended between content areas and parts 1 and 2 in a subtest.

Extended time for Achievement assessments are determined by the IEP team or 504 committee.

Time Limits and Number of Items

**Please note that the item totals shown on these documents include all items tested (operational and field test items). 2015-16 TCAP Time Limits and Number of Items

2015-16 Testing Time Limits and Number of Items


The comprehensive blueprints available below include detailed information about the standards that will be assessed on Part I and Part II of each grade level and subject, as well as item counts by reporting category. These blueprints replace the extended response standards and field test frameworks that were posted prior to the 2015 field test. The blueprints are available as a resource to support teachers and districts in their planning and increase their understanding of the assessment.

Scoring and Accountability
Scoring Resources

Scoring rubrics for the extended response section are trait-based, which means that student writing will be scored according to a number of specific and separate criteria instead of a single group of indicators. The rubrics will assess two traits: content and literacy. The rubrics have been designed to focus on how well a student has mastered and can communicate content knowledge. Scoring rubrics were used by educators to complete the range-finding process in summer 2015, and slight revisions to the language were made based on this process.

Based on recommendations from teachers and content area experts who have participated in the assessment development process, the student’s content score will be double-weighted. This means that students can receive up to 8 points for content versus 4 points for literacy. The extended response item is worth 12 points total.

Performance Level Descriptors

In spring 2014, Tennessee educators in grades 3-8 and U.S. History drafted Performance Level Descriptors (PLDs) to broadly describe the content knowledge, skills, and practices students performing at a given level should be able to demonstrate at each particular grade level. These PLDs will serve as the basis for standard setting following the first operational administration.

Extended Response Examples

After feedback from districts, we are releasing samples of Extended Response questions with a range of student responses per grade level.

Tools, Accessibility Features, and Accommodations

For more details about accommodations, please see the Accommodations Manual

Features for all Students

As previously communicated with districts in summer 2015, the 2015-16 social studies assessments will be administered on the same MIST platform as the TNReady ELA and mathematics assessments. As a result, all of the accommodations available to students on TNReady will also be available for social studies assessments. Click here for the complete accessibility guidelines and resources to support decision making and communications.


Accommodated forms will be available for operational testing beginning in 2015-16. At that time, these forms will be reserved only for students with the accommodation listed in his/her IEP or 504 plan.

Practice Resources

 In early spring 2015, the department released one practice test for each grade/subject area to help teachers and students prepare for the new assessments. Tennessee teachers met in summer 2015 to review the practice tests, and we are now sharing revised and updated PDF versions that reflect their edits and recommendations. We are also working to make them available on the MIST platform for student practice, as well as 7-12 additional items in MICA.

Practice Tests

Answer Keys

These practice materials will illustrate the various types of items used to evaluate the student's mastery of the new social studies/US History standards.