Tenn. Education Commissioner about TNReady tests: ‘We have to get better’

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“We believe we have to get better” said Tennessee’s Education Commissioner Candice McQueen after many issues last month with the statewide K-12 TNReady tests. 

Both she and Governor Bill Haslam expressed measured confidence in the test as they met with reporters Monday afternoon at the state capitol to put some perspective on the problems. 

There was plenty of sound and fury about the TNReady tests nearly month ago from lawmakers who heard immediately of problems from teachers, principals and parents. 

“Why are we doing online testing?” the governor asked as part of his perspective. “It feels like a lot of headaches associated with that and I would say to give context–we are only 10 states that have not already moved on line. It’s not that is where the world is going. That is where the world is.” 

Among the problems when the testing began last month were error signs when countless numbers of students tried to log-in to the on-line tests. 

There was even a cyber-attack at one point in April on the vendor Questar administrating the test. 

Ultimately, lawmakers decided that this year’s TNReady test results for teachers, schools and students won’t count unless it benefits them. 

The governor’s education commissioner stressed how more than 300,000 students successfully took the tests online. 

“We believe we have to get better. There is no option not to improve and continue to improve and make sure we have a seamless experience every single day for every single student.” said Commissioner McQueen. 

She said there would be an expanded role for another vendor called ETS to help Questar who has a contract with the state through the fall testing. 

Preliminary data about what happened is expected in a week or so says the education commissioner. 

She also indicated that about half the TNReady tests were taken online. 

The rest were administered to students by paper. 

Despite the still to be counted interruptions for students, the governor and the education commissioner were asked if they still have confidence in the test. 

“I still have confidence that testing is the right thing to do. I have full confidence that accountability is important for all of us and that this test– the assessment is good,” said the governor. 

Then he asked, “do I think test is a good test? I do,” he said turning the Commissioner McQueen. 

“I would agree,” said the Commissioner. 

The governor said a decision will be made later this year about continuing with the Questar company that administered the tests. 

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