Changes to Testing Coming to Tennessee

Bill Haslam

Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam and Education Commissioner Candice McQueen today announced changes in the delivery of the TNReady assessment for the current school year and additional changes that will take effect beginning in the 2019-20 school year. The changes are a direct response to a report generated by the recent statewide listening tour that included roundtable conversations and online feedback from educators including teachers, testing coordinators and school administrators on how to make improvements to the assessment process.

“These are real solutions, some of which are already underway or will be implemented later this year, that will be felt by educators, students and parents across the state,” Haslam said. “Throughout the listening tour, the message from teachers was clear that we do not need to start over but rather do all we can to improve the delivery of TNReady. We think these changes will do just that and create a better testing experience for both students and teachers.”

The Department of Education has already made significant changes, including a successful verification of the testing platform involving roughly 50,000 students, ensuring quicker turnaround of results starting with the fall end-of-course assessments, and providing better educator training opportunities.

This is a “positive development” according to JC Bowman, Executive Director of Professional Educators of Tennessee.  “It is critical that the state continues to review on-the-ground data from districts, educators and students,” added Bowman.

The state will perform another large-scale verification test in the Spring to ensure readiness for the April administration window.   Within the next week, Districts that participated will receive a score report for all students that took a practice test. These score reports will provide details about the specific standards that were captured in the practice test questions. “This feedback, which has never been available before, will help teachers further improve their instruction to meet their students’ needs” Bowman pointed out.

Additional changes for the 2018-19 school year include earlier access to test administration documents; clarity and consistency in the test administration documents; less paper to manage by combining materials; fewer assessment subparts; and a more responsive help desk.

“Making continuous improvements based on educator feedback is what will make our testing program work for every teacher and student in Tennessee,” McQueen said. “We are grateful to the teachers, testing coordinators and administrators that shared their ideas with us, and we feel confident that these steps we are announcing today will result in smoother test delivery and feedback that will support greater student success.”

As the department begins the process of selecting a testing vendor for the 2019-20 school year, the Governor laid out five additional specific steps the state plans to take to address long-term concerns learned through the listening tour process.

Those steps include:

1)               Greater access to technology by pursuing implementation of the Tennessee Student Technology Enrichment Program (TNSTEP) to provide school districts with more affordable options for obtaining technology devices.

2)               Smarter delivery of the assessments based on grade levels. Grades 3-4 testing will remain paper only; grades 5-8 will continue testing science online and other subject areas will move online upon vendor demonstrating readiness; and high school end-of-course assessments will be administered online, but the state will explore offering reading passages in paper copy.

3)               Faster results will be delivered to teachers and families as priority will be given to an assessment vendor that can provide electronic delivery by creating an online login once scores are available.

4)               Better preparation will be available by providing additional TNReady practice test items to teachers and students and by pursuing an option that would allow districts to deliver optional benchmarks tests that mirror TNReady.

5)               More Tennessee partnerships will be established by awarding additional credit during the procurement process to a vendor that plans to partner with Tennessee companies and universities as part of test development and administration.

In addition to implementing feedback from the listening tour, the multi-phase plan to improve delivery of TNReady includes refining the requirements for the assessment vendor that will be identified through a new request for proposals (RFP) this year, providing on-the-ground oversight of the fall test administration, and developing further opportunities for feedback from educators and stakeholders.

“It is a bit surprising that the Haslam Administration is proceeding with an RFP just before the November 6 election when lame duck Governor Haslam’s successor will be elected,” Tennessee Star Political Editor Steve Gill pointed out.  “The new Administration should be actively engaged in the process before an RFP is issued, particularly since they will be the ones implementing it. And any RFP should be carefully reviewed by experts and in consultation with Legislative leadership,” added Gill.

Read the report:

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3 Thoughts to “Changes to Testing Coming to Tennessee”

  1. Horatio Bunce

    Time to address the largest sanctuary business in TN – the public school system. Stealing $10k per illegal every year. Squandering millions on “testing” that for the last 8 years of Commie Core has failed to deliver any accountability. Bredesen, Haslam, Huffman, Frist, Woodson all with direct financial conflicts of interest (Achieve Inc., PARCC, TNScore), Bredesen and Blackburn and Corker and Alexander begging Arne Duncan for the $500M federal Race to the Top bribe to implement Commie Core and the mandatory online testing and data mining…they all sold out your children.

  2. Ralph

    “4) Better preparation will be available by providing additional TNReady practice test items to teachers and students and by pursuing an option that would allow districts to deliver optional benchmarks tests that mirror TNReady.”
    So in other words, teach the exam versus a genuine understanding of the material and if that fails to raise test scores, use a different exam until you find one that will. All of which is designed to artificially raise test scores to mask the failure of the system, the reduction of standards to accommodate the lowest common denominator (think illegal alien children that cannot understand English) and falsely praise the administrators and teachers unions.

    School vouchers are one part of the answer; let parents decide what schooling option best suits their children and their family’s values. This organization can help:

    Moreover, they publish a model K-12 code of ethics to preclude teachers using the classroom for political indoctrination:

    1. Karen Bracken

      You got it right when it comes to teaching to the test instead of real education BUT you are very wrong about vouchers. Vouchers is the scheme to destroy private and homeschool. If a private school accepts students with vouchers issued by the state (eventually they will issued by the federal government because a federal voucher system is what they really want) that school then must adhere to the strings attached and those strings will be the school will adhere to state/federal standards, regulations and policies. Once the camel gets its nose under the tent the rest of the body will soon follow. In all of these improvements you don’t see anything about letting parents SEE the test their children are taking and the answers now do you??? There is more affective domain being assessed than academics in these tests and they surely do not want parents to see what is really being asked and tested.