After troubles last spring with the critical statewide school tests called TNReady, Governor Bill Haslam Wednesday outlined some immediate changes, but a major piece remains for the administration of the next governor.
“We had a platform to deliver that assessment that didn’t work, but I still think it’s the right thing. I really do and it’s why it’s been so painful” said Haslam during a 45-minute explanation of the changes brought on by a series of online glitches last spring.
The governor hopes those tests that are so critical to student, teacher and school evaluations won’t go away, but it will be up to the administration of the winner in the gubernatorial race between Democrat Karl Dean and Republican Bill Lee to choose a new company to administer the tests.
This would come after “request for purchase” (RFPs) or bids are prepared as one of the last things done by the Haslam administration before it leaves office in January.
The current testing company has taken the blame for problems last spring and will still be in place next spring before the new administration chooses a new company to implement the TNReady tests in the 2019-2020 school year.
Questions about the test prompted a recent statewide listening tour of educators headed by the governor and his education department commissioner.
“We won’t be here, but the reason we have done this over the last 8-9 weeks was to do everything we could to prepare to go as well as possible when we hand it to them,” added the governor about the administration that will succeed him.
Last April, there were a multitude of troubles with students trying to take the online version of TNReady tests that included login problems and submission of results.
In a bill passed by lawmakers, the test results were eventually tossed out unless they benefited the student, teacher or school, but the governor wanted to hear more about the issues in his statewide listening tour.
“Some of the key things that we heard pretty consistently across the state was nobody wanted to go backward,” said retired longtime superintendent Wayne Miller who organized the listening tour.
Some of those immediate changes designed to avoid the spring problems of implementing the test include better training of teachers or administrators who give the test, better-written testing manuals, better computer access so they are not shared, and even less testing paper to manage