Tennessee

Tennessee Department of Education terminates TNReady testing contract

State suspends testing for grades 3-8 during 2015-2016 school year.

WATE 6 On Your Side news - NASHVILLE (WATE) - After delays and setbacks for Tennessee's new assessment, the Tennessee Department of Education announced Monday that it is terminating the contract with the provider of TNReady tests immediately.

Education Commissioner Candice McQueen said the state's contract with Measurement Inc. was terminated because of the North Carolina company's inability to deliver all testing materials. High school testing will continue as planned, but the state will suspend testing for grades 3-8 during the 2015-2016 school year.

"Those are hours that the students and the teachers cannot get back, hours of lost instruction time for a test that is controversial in what it actually assesses to begin with," parent Shelly Higgins said.

She agrees with the decision to cancel it especially after all the problems that kept popping up.

"To know that this has just been canceled, which I think it was wise to do, but I think it should have been done a lot sooner with part one," Higgins said.

If a district has received materials for TNReady testing for grades 3-8, McQueen said the administrator has the option to continue testing. TNReady testing began in Knox County on Tuesday. Knox County Superintendent Dr. Jim McIntyre said he has suspending all assessments for grades 3-8. Blount County Schools said it is halting remaining testing for grades 3-8.

"I believe it's the right decision that we made here locally from Knox County Schools to pull the plug and say 'look we've had too many delays, we've had too many challenges, we've had too many frustrations,'" Knox County Schools Superintendent Dr. Jim McIntyre said.

In February the department was forced to delay testing from the originally planned online assessment delivery to a paper-based format due to a failure the vendor's online platform. This month, McQueen said the company has already revised their shipping schedule three times and more than two million documents have not been shipped.

"Measurement Inc.'s performance is deeply disappointing. We've exhausted every option in problem solving with this vendor to assist them in getting these tests delivered," McQueen said. "Districts have exceeded their responsibility and obligation to wait for grade 3-8 materials, and we will not ask districts to continue waiting on a vendor that has repeatedly failed us."

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TNReady, the state's new assessment in math and English language arts in grades 3-11, was designed to be administered in two parts. Part I was given in late February and early March, and Part II was scheduled to begin on April 25.

The department said they are currently working to expedite selecting a vendor for next year's testing. They said they have also been in contact with the United States Department of Education to ensure that Tennessee is in compliance with federal requirements.

"Challenges with this test vendor have not diverted us from our goals as a state. Tennessee has made historic and tremendous growth over the past several years. Higher standards and increased accountability have been a key part of this progress," McQueen said. "Our work toward an aligned assessment plays a critical role in ensuring that all students are continuing to meet our high expectations and are making progress on their path to post-secondary and the workforce."


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