The Star Wars movie “Return of the Jedi” features the Empire headed by Darth Vader building a new, more powerful Death Star. The previous instrument of doom had been destroyed as a weakness was exposed and exploited in “A New Hope.”
Likewise, Tennessee’s testing empire has had weaknesses exposed year after year. Most recently, testing vendor Questar was unable to handle the full load of students taking an online exam all at once. This led to a range of excuses from hackers to dump trucks.
Now, though, the empire is back. Former Commissioner McQueen issued an email highlighting the building of a new testing instrument. Now, vendor of doom Questar is back at it again, promising to bid on the next TNReady. Chalkbeat has the story:
The company that oversaw Tennessee’s glitch-ridden student testing program last spring plans to pursue a new state contract to continue the job in the fall, despite a searing audit that blames the firm for most of the online problems.
Officials with Questar Assessment Inc. acknowledged failures in administering the testing program known as TNReady, but added that “we have learned a lot in two years.”
“I understand we have some mending to do, and we hope to be afforded the opportunity to do that,” Chief Operating Officer Brad Baumgartner told Chalkbeat on Thursday.
As Star Wars fans know, despite appearing to be incomplete, the Death Star in the “Jedi” movie was in fact fully operational and capable of devastating impact. Certainly, Questar’s new version will be just as capable of sucking weeks of valuable instructional time out of the school year while providing little value to students, teachers, or parents. If disruption is your aim, the Questar Death Star may be exactly what Tennessee needs.
Perhaps the next Commissioner of Education will pursue a mission of peace and hope that actually puts students first.
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