Tennessee’s new Education Commissioner has a problem. While she’s going around the state and supposedly listening to teachers and parents, she’s missing the key message: No one trusts TNReady.
Just this week, the Maury County School Board passed a resolution opposing the continued use of TNReady tests. The Maury County Education Association immediately announced support of the move. This comes as a new survey reveals an overwhelming majority of teachers don’t believe TNReady is an accurate reflection of student performance.
Meanwhile, Commissioner Schwinn is reassuring everyone that the next iteration of TNReady will be just fine, despite the fact a new vendor won’t be in place until 2019.
It’s a line we’ve all heard before. Failed Commissioner Candice McQueen often told us that we’d get TNReady right “this year.” But we never did. TNReady is never ready. It hasn’t been and it seems likely it won’t be.
To be fair, Schwinn inherited a hot mess in taking over the Tennessee Department of Education. That said, exhibiting real leadership requires that she make tough choices. Instead, she’s trotting out the same tired lines Tennesseans have heard year after year.
We have a new governor named Bill. Just like the last Bill who was our governor, this one has chosen an education commissioner who is putting her head in the sand instead of standing up and facing the very real policy problems impacting our schools.
TNReady has consistently failed our students, teachers, and communities. Groups across the state are sending this message loud and clear. Still, the highest levels of power are ignoring the screaming masses.
“Trust us one more time,” they say.
We’d don’t. We won’t. We can’t.
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Teaching to a test doesn’t work, and those of us with successful students are the squeaky wheels who refuse to bow to the beast on a regular basis. Some things are out of our control; therefore, we comply, but I invite anyone to come into my classroom to see what’s happening, and they’ll see quickly that my kids are learning more than how to fill in a bubble sheet in response to convoluted questions. All of this ridiculousness is running off good teachers, and it’s causing our students and parents (in addition to our teachers) to lose faith in education completely. I remember loving school, and now I am sad that all of these suits and PhDs can’t figure out how to put autonomy back in the classroom, stop holding teachers to an unrealistic rubric, and give us the opportunity to teach children and not tests.