An $18.5 Million Emergency

As a result of the failure of Measurement Inc. to deliver on its TNReady promises, the State of Tennessee has awarded a contract to Pearson to grade tests completed by students this year, including high school EOC tests and Part I tests that were completed. The contract pays $18.5 million and the estimated completion date for grading is December.

Grace Tatter has the details:

The state’s contract with Pearson goes through December for scoring and reporting of 2015-16 assessments, including high school exams, Part I grade 3-8 tests, and any completed Part II grade 3-8 exams.

Now, to be clear, the “emergency” is that some students completed tests that weren’t graded and won’t be graded by Measurement Inc. because they were fired.

What about the fact that some tests were completed online and others were completed on paper? Never fear, the state’s data team has a plan:

Measurement Inc. already has scored high school exams completed online last fall for students who are on block schedules. Assistant Education Commissioner Nakia Townes said the state will use a formula to ensure that those scores are comparable to the scores of tests completed on paper, and to be graded by Pearson, this spring.

So, as a result of this new contract, there will be two different vendors grading the same test as well as some tests completed in an online format and some on pencil and paper.

Oh, and the results are due back in December. Well past time to have much value to inform instruction or help parents or students understand areas of deficiency.

Instead of spending $18.5 million on grading these tests which will have limited usefulness, the state could use that money to fully develop and pay for portfolio assessment at the district level for related arts and other non-tested teachers.

It could also use some of that money to support the unfunded mandate of RTI2.

Or, it could spend a portion of that money on developing an alternative assessment regimen — perhaps incorporating project-based assessment and reducing the reliance on standardized testing. Maybe even finding ways to reduce total testing time. Or, develop an assessment waiver as allowed under the new ESSA.

Out of crisis can come opportunity – and we have an opportunity and some unspent funds that could be used to develop better, more student-focused solutions going forward.

Instead, we’re handing money to Pearson and trying to get back to business as usual as soon as possible.

Rest assured:

…the department plans to select a new vendor in June to develop and administer next year’s state assessment.

For more on education politics and policy in Tennessee, follow @TNEdReport

3 thoughts on “An $18.5 Million Emergency

  1. The state was warned about Measurement Inc but in their usual “we know it all” mentality they ignored the facts about Measurement Inc. In 2015 Rep. Rick Womick had a bill to get rid of Measurement Inc backed up with a lot of facts. But that too was ignored. Good thing the floor presentation was recorded and filed for all that might be interested to listen to. And now we have new standards to be implemented in 2017-2018 that are Common Core with a few changes and a new name but you can put lipstick on a pig it is still a pig. And where are the parents. They all went back to sleep which is exactly what Haslam and many of our legislators knew would happen if they stalled us long enough.

  2. Pingback: Tennessee Education Report | Mitchell Questions Pearson “Emergency”

  3. I’m a teacher in Metro. These tests have done no good. They are worthless to me and my students. I’m a teacher and I can’t even look at the tests. If I do, I could be fired. Students knew that these tests are worthless and many didn’t even try. I don’t blame them for bubbling in any answer.

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