Bill takes aim at state exam impact on teachers, students

Xavier Smith • Jan 10, 2018 at 7:44 PM

One bill introduced in the Tennessee legislature this week takes aim at the impact potentially flawed state exams have on teachers and students.

The bill, sponsored by Sen. Steve Southerland, R-Morristown, would require TN Ready, future TN Ready replacements or other TCAP assessments to be administered for one year without issues to be used for student growth data in teacher evaluations.

The legislation follows a string of issues associated with the TN Ready exam, introduced to the state in 2015.

Last year, Tennessee Education Commissioner Candice McQueen said the department decided to move all students to a paper-and-pencil version of TN Ready after issues rose with online testing. It would have been the first year the test was online.

Last spring, Wilson County Schools and Lebanon Special School District joined other districts that cancelled Part II of the TN Ready exams, because some districts did not receive testing materials in time. McQueen terminated the state’s contract with Measurement, Inc. following the cancellation.

About 9,400 of 600,000 TN Ready scores from the 2016-2017 school year were incorrectly scored, with about 1,400 scored too high. The scoring issue affected about 70 schools in 33 districts.

The tests scored incorrectly were in English I, English II and integrated math II.

In addition to the scoring errors, almost 1,700 teachers in 62 districts were affected by the state having incorrect classroom rosters. Those rosters are used to assign student tests to teachers.

Wilson County Director of Schools Donna Wright said although the district wasn’t notified of any issues with its exams, the latest incident continues the streak of issues with state tests.

“Again, it really begs the questions of credibility on state assessments,” Wright said last year.

The Lebanon Special School District was identified as an affected district, although it is believed to have a minimal impact.

Less than 1 percent of all assessments were identified as incorrectly scored, and the Professional Educators of Tennessee applauded the department for spotting the error through its own internal investigation.

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