A Knox County parent has refused to allow her children take the state’s failed TNReady tests each of the last four years. WBIR has more:
A Knox County parent says she has refused to let her kids take TNReady exams for four years.
Elizabeth MacTavish and her husband are educators, and she understands the stress of standardized testing as both a parent and a teacher.
We are spending millions of dollars on a test that is neither reliable nor valid, the testing companies that we’ve been using continually fail,” MacTavish said.
Over the past few years, TNReady has had some problems.
In 2016 the original online testing system failed. In 2017 about 1,700 tests were scored incorrectly.
In 2018, the state comptroller’s office says there were login delays, slow servers, and software bugs.
Now, the state is looking for a new vendor for TNReady testing. Tuesday, it issued a request for proposal for next school year.
The Department of Education expects the new contract to be $20 million each year. It’s current contract with Questar is $30 million.
Former Commissioner of Education Candice McQueen, who presided over all the failed iterations of TNReady, perpetuated the myth that not testing annually would result in a penalty from the federal government. In fact, that’s not entirely accurate:
There’s just one problem: The federal government has not (yet) penalized a single district for failing to hit the 95% benchmark. In fact, in the face of significant opt-outs in New York last year (including one district where 89% of students opted-out), the U.S. Department of Education communicated a clear message to New York state education leaders: Districts and states will not suffer a loss of federal dollars due to high test refusal rates. The USDOE left it up to New York to decide whether or not to penalize districts financially.
Current Commissioner Penny Schwinn has demonstrated she’s not actually listening to parents and teachers as she travels around the state and visits schools. Instead, she is determined to continue to pursue a testing model that has failed students, teachers, and schools across the state.
More than 80% of teachers believe the state should move to the ACT suite of assessments to replace TNReady. A similar number believe TNReady does not accurately reflect student ability.
For now, the state marches on and nothing changes. But, if more parents took the refusal approach, the state could be forced to truly reckon with a broken system.
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