This year’s TNReady quick score setback means some districts will use the results in student report cards and some won’t. Of course, that’s nobody’s fault.
One interesting note out of all of this came as Commissioner McQueen noted that quick scores aren’t what really matters anyway. Chalkbeat reports:
The commissioner emphasized that the data that matters most is not the preliminary data but the final score reports, which are scheduled for release in July for high schools and the fall for grades 3-8. Those scores are factored into teachers’ evaluations and are also used to measure the effectiveness of schools and districts.
“Not until you get the score report will you have the full context of a student’s performance level and strengths and weaknesses in relation to the standards,” she said.
The early data matters to districts, though, since Tennessee has tied the scores to student grades since 2011.
First, tying the quick scores to student grades is problematic. Assuming TNReady is a good, reliable test, we’d want the best results to be used in any grade calculation. Using pencil and paper this year makes that impossible. Even when we switch to a test fully administered online, it may not be possible to get the full scores back in time to use those in student grades.
Shifting to a model that uses TNReady to inform and diagnose rather than evaluate students and teachers could help address this issue. Shifting further to a project-based assessment model could actually help students while also serving as a more accurate indicator of whether they have met the standards.
Next, the story notes that teachers will be evaluated based on the scores. This will be done via TVAAS — the state’s value-added modeling system. Even as more states move away from value-added models in teacher evaluation, Tennessee continues to insist on using this flawed model.
Again, let’s assume TNReady is an amazing test that truly measures student mastery of standards. It’s still NOT designed for the purpose of evaluating teacher performance. Further, this is the first year the test has been administered. That means it’s simply not possible to generate valid data on teacher performance from this year’s results. You can’t just take this year’s test (TNReady) and compare it to the TCAP from two years ago. They are different tests designed to measure different standards in a different way. You know, the old apples and oranges thing.
One teacher had this to say about the situation:
“There’s so much time and stress on students, and here again it’s not ready,” said Tikeila Rucker, a Memphis teacher who is president of the United Education Association of Shelby County.
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What bothers me is, Tennessee has made a huge deal of moving from norm-referenced to criterion-referenced testing. Waiting until all scores are in to set the proficiency benchmarks tells me it’s all still norm-referenced.
Develop a reasonable test. Have Tennessee teachers set the proficiency standards (meaning, you’ll have to let them actually see the test). Use it as a tool for improvement, not a stick for punishment.
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