Teachers didn't know. They aren't allowed to look at the test.
The vague teacher instructions to this never-before given test didn't clearly say for teachers to tell students not to write an answer in the first sample question. It isn't the fault of the teachers or the students.
After the sample question error was caught, the TDOE sent out an email telling test administrators not to have students put an answer for the sample test question. But who knows what happens to the tests that the students already took... Will they have to take it again? Will someone mark their answer sheets fresh? Will those answers all be counted wrong and make their teachers look like they didn't teach their students anything this year? Who knows. That's what you get when you build a plane while it is in the air.
The Part I of TNReady was supposed to only cover concepts that had been taught on the TN Curriculum Map/TNReadyBlueprints/Pacing Guide before Part I was administered. Part II of TNReady, which is given in April-May, is supposed to cover the remaining concepts and standards, according to the TDOE's plan. But teachers have confided to us that there are questions on Part I covering concepts that students have not been taught yet. These concepts are clearly questions that would be appropriate for Part II.
Thus, students are baffled and frustrated to be tested on concepts they haven't learned yet. Teachers are worried these will make scores lower and will affect their own evaluation scores and possibly risk their jobs. Teachers, especially the ones who faithfully followed the TDOE's plan, are feeling tricked and sick.
But that's not the only problems we've heard of...
- Read aloud accommodations for students with disabilities and IEPs: According to the testing manual, the teachers are only allowed to read the digits to students. So, the number "34" would be pronounced, "three four" instead of "thirty-four". How confusing would this word problem sound to your child with an accommodation?
There were four eight bananas. The monkeys ate three two of them. How many are left?
- Calculators: They were supposed to be embedded in the online TNReady test, but now that the test had to be switched to paper tests, districts are scrambling to purchase thousands of dollars worth of TNReady approved calculators. Not just any calculator will do. So, districts are spending yet more scarce money on technology specifically for this dumb test. Dickson County School District spent over $12,000 on calculators. That's $12,000 they didn't have budgeted, that will have to come from somewhere.
- Classroom Walls: The TNReady testing manual says things can stay on the walls of the classrooms where tests are given. However, some districts are making teachers remove or cover all classroom decorations and posters, while others are not. So, some students may have helpful info on the walls during the test, and others may have rooms that look as bare as prison cells.
- Inappropriate test questions: Teachers are quietly telling us that there are questions on the test that shouldn't be. The questions are on subject material and standards that are not included until future grade levels for students. Children are frustrated, and some are even in tears (especially the "Advanced" students who get all A's on report cards) because they don't know answers to things they haven't been taught yet. Clearly, this test is not aligned with the grade-level standards (which we all know are really the Common Core standards rebranded to be called TNCore).
- Disparity in testing administration: Some students in some schools and districts are allowed to read or do alternate activities if they refuse to take the test or when they are finished testing. Other schools are saying absolutely positively NO, even though the TDOE testing manual clearly states on p.14 that students may do so. Are schools/districts in violation for not following the policy?
- Errors on the test: Teachers are afraid to say it aloud and risk their jobs, but we've heard teachers say they saw grammar mistakes on the ELA tests. There are confusing questions and vague answer choices. Who knows if this will ever be exposed because nobody is allowed to see the tests.
- Tests still haven't arrived to some districts: Some districts are still waiting to get the blasted TNReady paper tests. And, once they receive them, they'll have boxes and boxes of mixed up grade level tests to sort through. Then, teachers and administrators will have to find time to attach student barcodes to the bubble sheets and bubble in demographic information before students ever take the test. Guess who is stuck staying after-school to do this? Yes, our over-worked, stressed-out teachers and principals. Guess which students won't get Art, Music, PE, Library this week because those teachers are pulled to sort and prepare paper test booklets? Yes, our children.
Governor Haslam needs to own this disaster. He appointed the people who got our children into this mess. Haslam needs to take the 8th grade TNReady test, and then he should make his scores public for all to see this test is worthless and a complete waste of taxpayer money. Heck, all legislators need to take the test and see what a mess it is and what an utter waste of time it is for children!
Representative Stewart and his wife held a meeting this week for parents about opting out. (Remember the blog we wrote about them opting their child out?) If legislators and school board members are willing to opt their own children out of the mess, Governor Haslam needs to listen closely and take heed.
The opt-out movement is growing. Many parents have already opted their kids out of this testing flight to nowhere. We literally can't keep up with all the people contacting us wanting to know how. If you want to know how to get your kids off this plane before it falls apart, there is information on our website (look under the "Choose To Refuse" tab). You won't be the first to refuse, and you won't be the last.
There are predictions that this mess is only the beginning of a massive state-wide opt-out movement like other states have experienced. With Round 2 of TNReady in April-May, it may very well happen this spring. Yes, that's right, your child has another week of TNReady testing to endure next month.
If your child tells you about their testing problems, or if you are a teacher/proctor and are willing to speak anonymously, please let us know at our website. You can also put it on social media and use the hashtag #TrashTNReady and be sure to tag legislators with #tnleg
Phone: (615) 741-2001
(And click HERE to find your legislators to contact them, too!)
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