East Tennessee educators share thoughts on new changes for TNReady testing

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With immediate changes on the way for our schools’ TNReady testing, we’re hearing from East Tennessee educators on the challenges and recommendations.

This week, Governor Bill Haslam outlined changes as a way to avoid problems like the ones seen last spring.

Revisions include releasing of the test administration manual earlier, delivering information and materials to schools earlier, less paper to manage because they’ll be combining materials and there will also be a more responsive help desk among other adjustments.

More: Immediate changes underway for TNReady, but critical decision faces next governor

During a statewide listening tour, teachers shared their concerns and ideas with Governor Haslam and an advisory team.

“The message we hear at all six of the stops was that the fundamentals are right, that we have good standards and that what we’re expecting kids to learn is right,” said Dr. Mike Winstead, Director of Schools for the Maryville City School System.

Dr. Winstead was one of the three members on that advisory team and said educators were transparent. 

“It was a great first step. I think the changes already in place headed into this year, just as far as that smooth test administration, getting things out sooner, getting the reports back quicker,” Winstead said. 

WATE 6 On Your Side spoke with Tanya Coats, President of the Knox County Education Association, who said she questions the real purpose of TNReady testing. 

“They always make an exerted effort to make sure they’re doing what’s right for students every year but I don’t think they got it quite correct,” Coats said. “Every year we’re continuing to spend money, invest money, on this test TNReady and they don’t have it ready.”

While touring across the state, Governor Haslam and his advisory team asked educators what message needs to be passed on to the next governor.

“And what we always heard was ‘Don’t back up. Don’t start over and give us some time, some consistency,'” said Winstead.

“Governor Haslam, he’s only got a couple more months in office and at this point he can’t fix something in a couple more months. It’s going to be incumbent on the next governor to really get it right,” said Coats.

Despite the new changes to TNReady testing, there still seems to be a division among educators.

“We’re on track, I think, to much higher student achievement and more students prepared to go on to college and career with the track that we’re on. We just need some time to put it all in place,” said Winstead.

“One aspect I wish they would consider is just eliminating high stakes decisions based on this TNReady test because it’s not proven to be beneficial for us,” added Coats.

One of the changes coming to TNReady testing is getting results into parents’ hands much quicker. There’s a priority in creating an online login so teachers and families can access results as soon as they’re available.

As WATE 6 On Your Side shared with you before, last spring there were a number of troubles, from students trying to take the online version of TNReady tests and login problems, to submission of results.

Lawmakers passed a bill where test results were eventually tossed out unless they benefited the student, teacher or school.

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