It’s campaign season and candidate after candidate is telling voters they are the clear choice because they will be “ready on day one.”
Likewise, it’s the beginning of statewide testing season in Tennessee and districts have been told the state’s new system would be ready on day one.
Except it wasn’t.
Brian Wilson at the Murfreesboro Daily News Journal reports:
A technology failure from a state vendor halted standardized testing across Tennessee on the first day that TNReady, the state’s new online exam program, was set to be administered on a widespread basis.
The state’s testing platform “experienced major outages across the state” Monday morning because of network issues with Measurement, Inc., who is contracted to administer the standardized exams, according to a memo Commissioner of Education Candice McQueen sent to schools directors across the state.
Don’t call us, we’ll call you …
As problems began this morning, the Department of Education sent the following notice to school districts:
At 8:25 a.m. CST the MIST platform experienced major outages across the state. These outages were caused because the network utilized by Measurement Inc. experienced a failure. We are urgently working with Measurement Inc. to identify the causes and correct the problem. At this time, we are advising that schools experiencing problems with the test discontinue testing, and return to their normal classes. Please do not begin any new additional testing you had planned for today until the department provides further information. However, if you have students that are successfully testing, please allow them to complete the current session.
Note, this problem affects both the MICA and MIST platforms.
The MIST Help Desk is aware of the problem and will be not accepting additional phone calls on this issue. Please encourage your technology directors to call the department’s TNReady Focus Room.
We will provide frequent updates as information becomes available. Thank you for your patience.
It’s not clear how today’s delay will impact testing schedules across the state or whether the TNReady platforms will be ready tomorrow.
Williamson County Schools had already pushed the start of their TNReady testing back to Wednesday as a precaution against the sort of testing glitches that occurred today.
A Call for Fairness
The Tennessee Education Association issued a statement from their President, Barbara Gray, calling for fair treatment of teachers in light of the TNReady problems:
TEA has long had concerns about this transition to a statewide online assessment. We have seen problems with pilot assessments and practice tests in the past, and unfortunately the first day of TNReady resulted in more issues and frustrations for our students and teachers.
Leading up to today’s testing, we have heard from educators and parents statewide about concerns with the state’s capacity to handle so many students on the server at one time, as well as concerns about local districts having enough resources to complete the testing with so little funding from the state.
It is unacceptable to have this kind of statewide failure when the state has tied so many high-stakes decisions to the results of this assessment. Our students and teachers have enough stress and anxiety around these assessments without adding additional worries about technical issues.
The state must grant a one-year waiver – at a minimum – from including TNReady scores in teacher evaluations. It is unfair and inappropriate to stake our teachers’ professional standing on flawed, unreliable test scores in any year, but there are even greater implications and uncertainty while implementing a new assessment.
School Boards Expressing Concern
Ahead of the TNReady tests, several school boards have expressed concern about the use of the results in teacher evaluations this year.
MNPS and Knox County are among those asking the state to waive the results this year.
No word on whether state officials are still perplexed about why teachers are wary having TNReady count toward this year’s evaluations.
Again, it’s not clear when we’ll actually be TNReady, just that it wasn’t on day one.
For more on education politics and policy in Tennessee, follow @TNEdReport
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The sad thing is all the time that testing coordinators have spent scheduling and students have spent testing the system. Issues had been apparent from these initial tests. It really shouldn’t be a surprise.
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