In the immediate aftermath of several days of TNReady online testing failures, the Tennessee General Assembly passed a bill on Thursday that will “hold harmless” all students, teachers, and districts from the results of those tests. The bill will “ensure that results from this year’s TNReady tests will not count,” Fox17 reported:
The bill would make it so students’ grades, teachers’ evaluations and pay, and schools will not be impacted by this year’s TNReady test scores. However, teachers can still choose to be evaluated based on this year’s scores if their students do well.
The state of Tennessee is in its second year of a $60 million contract with Questar for the TNReady tests. So far, Tennessee has paid $12 million of this year’s contact. The state is in the process of reviewing that contract with Questar.
The bill is expected to go to Governor Bill Haslam’s desk early next week.
“It was clear many members of the General Assembly wanted to address concerns related to the recent administration of state assessments. The governor understands these concerns and did not oppose the legislation,” a spokesperson for Gov. Haslam said.
The governor is expected to sign the bill into law next week.
As The Tennessee Star reported earlier this week:
After months of preparing for the annual year-end assessments, many Tennessee students struggled to log on to the TNReady testing platform Monday morning.
The Department of Education says the problem was quickly fixed by the vendor, and over 20,000 students took the test after the problems were resolved.
“We share the frustration that some students had challenges logging into Nextera this morning. Questar has fixed this issue, and thousands of students are on the platform now. Over 25,000 students have successfully completed TNReady tests as of this point today,” the Department of Education tweeted. “No server has crashed, and the issue was not statewide. This issue was not related to volume. Testing has resumed.”
Some districts saw the early errors as a warning of what was to come and chose to cancel testing for the day.
“In Williamson, most of our 5-11 students could not log in,” said Jason Golden, Deputy Superintendent of Williamson County Schools. “Williamson County Schools early reports indicate that those who did get logged in apparently finished the test, but we can’t measure the distractions they were dealing with in each classroom as other students couldn’t get logged in. We shut it down for the day & are not doing afternoon testing.”
Problems were also reported in Rutherford County.
Republican gubernatorial candidate Rep. Diane Black (R-TN-06) weighed in on the TNReady testing problems on Tuesday:
For years the state has chosen to force sweeping education reform and more standardized tests into our classrooms and time and time again, the state has failed to keep up their end of the bargain.
This week’s delays are not the fault of the educators or the students, but they are the ones who suffer from the missed class time as they sit and wait for the state to get its act together. Tennessee teachers are some of the hardest working in the nation, and I am disappointed the state continues to waste their time.
“All across the state we have heard from superintendents, testing coordinators about some issues logging in, recording the tests as the kids took them, sometimes not being able to log in,” House Republican Caucus Chair Ryan Williams (R-Cookeville) told The Tennessean on Thursday.
“I think what happened was the House felt like we needed to do something to protect teachers and our students and our institutions from further erosion of the trust as it relates to these tests. I think what you saw today is an effort to do that,” he added.
“We are very pleased legislators ensured that employment or compensation decisions based on the data cannot be used” JC Bowman, Executive Director of Professional Educators of Tennessee, said in a statement.
“I think everyone, despite their position on the testing, wanted this to be a success,” Bowman added.