The Tennessee Department of Education has hit yet another snag in getting spring standardized test results to school districts.
Questar, the vendor for TNReady tests, is having problems with its scanning software used to grade paper exams. The state was already having problems with delivering raw scores, partly because some districts missed the deadline to turn in completed tests. As a result, some districts are not using test scores to calculate final grades for report cards.
This is the fourth year that the state has had some type of issue with standardized testing. Last year, there were so many problems with the testing itself that the state terminated its contract with Measurement, Inc. and signed a contract with Questar.
“We understand the importance of having the raw scores to communicate information to educators, students, and families, and we apologize for the inconvenience our delays have caused TDOE and our district partners in getting this information on the timeline we committed to months ago,” Brad Baumgartner, chief partner officer for Questar, said in a statement.
Education commissioner Candice McQueen said in an email to school superintendents on Thursday that nearly all scores for high school EOC exams were available, but that scores for grades 3-8 TCAP tests were still coming in.
McQueen said she would meet with several groups, including the board of the Tennessee Organization of School Superintendents, over the summer to discuss solutions.
“Various test vendors over the past several years have had challenges with meeting the tight timelines for raw score delivery for report cards,” McQueen wrote. “While state law permits districts to adopt a policy to exclude results from report cards if scores are not received within the last five instructional days before the end of the school year, we desire a plan and timeline that is doable for the vast majority of districts.”
The opinion website Tennessee Education Report recommended that the state do away with the practice of using raw test scores for report card grades, given the problems with timely deliver and the fact that McQueen has said that raw scores don’t provide the context found in final score reports, which aren’t delivered until later. Andy Spears wrote on Friday:
Here’s a solution: Don’t count TNReady scores in student final grades. In fact, since McQueen readily admits that raw score data is of little actual value and since different methods of factoring quick scores lead to vastly different scores assigned to students, why even bother?It’s clearly been a problem to get reliable quick score data back to districts. The data is of dubious value. Legislation should advance that eliminates the use of TNReady data in student grades.