NASHVILLE — Results from last spring’s beleaguered TN Ready assessment are in, showing mixed results for students in Scott County.

Although the Tennessee Department of Education has not yet released school-level testing results, district-level results have been published. The same “mixed results” descriptor is being used by education officials in Nashville for school systems across the state.

Snafus with the state’s online testing system caused delays and other testing problems, prompting the state legislature to get involved. The results from last spring’s TN Ready assessment were not used to negatively impact schools, educators or students.

In other words, the results don’t really count.

Still, the Department of Education hired a third-party firm to do an analysis on the testing results to see if the disruptions impacted scores. That firm, HumRRO, concluded that there had been a minimal impact on overall scores.

In Scott County, middle school students tested online. In Oneida, students did not test online. Online testing was not mandated this year by the Department of Education. However, because online testing becomes mandatory in 2019, administrators in the county school system decided to have their students take the test online in order to prepare for the changes that are coming next year.

Among students in the Scott County School System, 27.4 percent in grades 3-5 were on track or mastered in English-language arts, down 4.3 percent from 2017. Some 52.6 percent of students in those grades were approaching the on-track level in the subject area, meaning they’re below but approaching expectations at the state level.

Under the state’s old scoring system, which was abandoned in 2016, the percentages would’ve meant that 27.4 percent of students in grades 3-5 tested proficient or advanced while 52.6 percent tested basic and 20 percent tested below basic.

In grades 6-8, 29.2 percent of students tested on track or mastered, up slightly from 2017. Another 56.3 percent were approaching.

At the high school level, 24.4 percent of students tested mastered or on track in language arts, down from 28.9 percent in 2017. However, the percentage of students testing below basic also decreased, from 17.1 percent to 12.5 percent.

In math, 9.1 percent of students at the high school level tested proficient or advanced — or, under the new terminology, on track or mastered. That’s down from 10.1 percent in 2017. Another 23.2 percent were approaching.

In science, 25.4 percent tested on track or mastered, down from 29.9 percent in 2017. Another 34.5 percent were approaching.

Math scores were better at the elementary level, where 24.3 percent of students in grades 3-5 tested proficient or advanced. However, that was also down from 2017, when 27.7 percent tested at the same level. Another 49.1 percent were “approaching,” or basic, this year.

At the middle school level, 19.4 percent tested proficient or advanced in math, down from 22 percent in 2017. Another 42.1 percent were approaching.

In science, 35.2 percent of students at the elementary level tested proficient or advanced, down from 37.1 percent in 2017. Another 38.5 percent tested basic.

At the middle school level, 52.2 percent of students tested proficient or advanced in science, down from 55.3 percent in 2017. Another 28.7 percent tested basic.

Finally, in U.S. history at the high school level, 32.8 percent of students tested proficient or advanced, essentially unchanged from 2017. Another 33.9 percent tested basic.

In the Oneida Special School District, 34.8 percent of students at the elementary level tested proficient or advanced in English-language arts, up from 31 percent in 2017.

At the middle school level, 40.3 percent of students tested on track or mastered, down from 42.5 percent in 2017. Another 49.8 percent were “approaching,” or basic.

At the high school level, 30.6 percent of students tested proficient or advanced in language arts, down from 37.5 percent in 2017. Another 60.3 percent were approaching.

In math, 25.7 percent of students at the high school level in Oneida tested proficient or advanced, up substantially from 17.6 percent in 2017. Another 32.9 percent were approaching.

Science found a substantial decrease from 2017, however. Thirty-six percent of students at the high school level tested proficient or advanced, down 16 points from last year. Another 38.7 percent were approaching.

In math, 32.2 percent of students at the elementary level in Oneida tested proficient or advanced, down 4.5 percent from last year. Another 44.1 percent tested basic, or “approaching.”

At the middle school level, 28.7 percent of students were proficient or advanced in math, up from 22.9 percent in 2017. Another 43.4 percent were approaching.

In science, 49.4 percent of students at the elementary level in Oneida tested proficient or advanced, down from 61.9 percent of students last year. Another 30.1 percent tested basic.

The numbers were better at the middle school level, where 63.2 percent of students tested proficient or advanced in science, up from 62 percent in 2017.

In high school U.S. history, 30 percent of students tested proficient or advanced in Oneida, down from 50.9 percent last year. Another 41.4 percent tested basic.

Statewide, 35.7 percent of students at the elementary level were on track or mastered in English-language arts, up slightly from 2017. Forty percent were on the same level in math, which was unchanged from 2017, and 56 percent were on that level in science, down slightly from 2017.

At the middle school level across the state, 32.1 percent of students were on track or mastered in language arts, down slightly from 2017. In math, 34.6 percent of students were on track or mastered, again down slightly from last year. Some 60.2 percent of students in Tennessee are testing proficient or advanced in science, but that number was also down from 2017, dropping two percentage points.

At the high school level, 29.4 percent of students across the state were on track or mastered in language arts, down substantially from 2017. A total of 22.5 percent of students were proficient or advanced in math, up slightly from 2017. Some 45.3 percent were on track or mastered in science, a drop of nearly six percentage points from 2017. In U.S. history, the percentage of students testing proficient or advanced dropped from 30.8 percent to 27.8 percent.

The Department of Education said that gains in English-language arts proficiency at the elementary school level are “encouraging,” given the state’s focus on early grades literacy through its “Read to be Ready” campaign. That initiative has resulted in the hire of literacy coaches for teachers, funded summer camps to help students who are behind catch up, and established near literacy standards in elementary schools.

This story is the August 2018 installment of Focus On: Education, presented on the third week of each month by S.T.A.N.D. as part of the Independent Herald's Focus On series. A print version of this article can be found on Page A3 of the August 16, 2018 edition of the Independent Herald.