MNPS Voices - Arthur Cunningham

#MNPSVoices: Arthur Cunningham, Data Assessment Analyst
Posted on 04/28/2021

Behind Metro Schools’ standardized tests, there is a team of analysts, coordinators, and managers who verify that assessments are administered appropriately and securely.


 There are many moving parts in the preparation — checking the health of the programs and systems, ensuring students are matched up with their correct information, counting books, and helping with distribution from the warehouse.

Until May 14 (testing dates depend on each school), students will be taking the Tennessee Comprehensive Assessment Program (TCAP), the state’s testing program since 1988. TCAP includes TNReady assessments in math, English language arts, social studies, and science, as well as alternative assessments, like MSAA and TCAP-Alt, for students with special needs. Testing did not happen last year because of COVID, so this spring students are taking standardized paper tests for the first time in a while. 

Arthur Cunningham is a district data assessment analyst in the Research, Assessment, and Evaluation Department and one of the many staff working on logistics as we prepare for testing. (Cunningham pictured here with his dog, Page, and James Schwarz, a group testing coordinator who has worked at MNPS for 45 years.) Arthur Cunningham and James Schwarz

“Students should try not to be nervous; all you can do is give it your best,” Cunningham said. “And safety measures and COVID protocols will be in place.”

The district is committed to providing students with everything they need to perform well academically.

The testing and assessment data are used to improve our methods and prepare students for life after graduation. Since this year has had many challenges for students, families, and schools to overcome, Cunningham and the research department have supported schools in any way possible to make sure testing goes smoothly.

“I think testing is a good way to potentially measure how the students and MNPS are doing compared to other school districts and students,” said Cunningham. “Student success has many different aspects and should not be based solely on one assessment, but testing allows us to gather important data.”

Although his job is driven by the data, Cunningham’s focus is always on the students who are behind those numbers. He found an interest in working with struggling youth at his first internship at a probation office. That role led him to teach in Denver before going back to school to get a master’s degree in research methods and statistics and taking a job at MNPS as a data analyst — finding a different way to advocate for students behind the scenes.

“My favorite part of teaching was the relationships I made with students, and although I decided not to teach anymore, I still wanted to be a part of education in some way,” Cunningham said. “So I thought the data role would be a good opportunity.”

In addition to supporting students, Cunningham also supports Metro Animal Care and Control, helping to walk the stray dogs once a week. He has three rescue dogs of his own that he takes to Edwin Warner Park in his free time.

MNPS Assessments

For resources and testing schedules and to learn more about TCAP and TNReady, visit the MNPS Assessments page.

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