NASHVILLE — TN Ready, the beleaguered statewide assessment being administered in public schools this week and last, will not count against students, teachers or schools, state legislators agreed last week.
The Tennessee General Assembly struck a deal between the House and Senate that will see the annual end-of-year assessment stripped of its ability to negatively impact students and teachers, in the wake of widespread problems as students attempted to test online.
The attempt by the Tennessee Department of Education to move back to online testing for TCAP came two years after the first attempted roll-out of online testing two years ago, which ended in failure. This time around, it was primarily high school students who were attempting to test online when problems began on the first day of testing, April 16.
However, some students in grades 5-8 were also attempting to test online. The Scott County School System was one of the systems that opted to test online at those grade levels this year, as a practice run of sorts for next year, when online testing is currently set to become mandatory at the middle school level.
After widespread problems were reported on Monday, the TN Ready system was hit by what the Department of Education termed a cyber attack on Tuesday, April 17, resulting in additional failures. By Wednesday, there were no glitches reported locally or in most other school systems, which some speculated might have been because there were fewer students testing that day, due to the failures of the first two days.
By that point, the Tennessee General Assembly had already begun emergency hearings on the issue, leading to the deal between the two chambers to render the test toothless this year. The administration of Gov. Bill Haslam did not oppose the legislation.
State Sen. Ken Yager, who supported the deal, said in a statement that he shared “the concerns and frustrations of the students, teachers and parents I’ve heard from this week about the TN Ready tests.”
According to the legislation, the results of this year’s TN Ready tests cannot be used as part of students’ grades or teachers’ evaluations. State law requires the test to count as much as one-fourth of a student’s final grade, leaving the final decision up to local boards of education.
The bill passed by the General Assembly stipulates that scores from this school year can also not be used to terminate teachers or impact their compensation.
Additionally, the bill prevents student growth data from the tests from being used to identify priority schools across the state.
Yager pointed out that he also supported legislation, which became law April 12, prohibiting the state from implementing additional statewide testing until the current system is operating correctly.