“TNReady’s not ready and it ain’t never gonna be ready"
—Amy Cate, Retired Knox County Teacher
A year later and Cate is right. TNReady still ain't ready and teachers are growing more and more frustrated at being used by TDOE to inflict tortuous testing on children.
More Spilled Beans...
Back in 2016, teachers spilled the beans on TNReady testing and urged the State to #TrashTNReady. After teachers spoke out, TDOE had no choice but to call off testing. Two years later, the movement continues as teachers are once again spilling the beans and urging lawmakers to #TrashTNReady.
Recently, a Tennessee Teacher had this to say about TNReady
Mistakes happen. Own them. I can't stand the lies and half truths.
Under McQueen's guidance, TDOE has become masters at deception and half truths. Here’s a great example. Have someone ask for a crosswalk between common core and the new TN standards. The state refused to do a crosswalk saying they wanted teachers to learn by doing it themselves. It took many, many days but when I was finished with K-5, there was no difference. It was a shell game that only resulted in time wasted and confusion.
My problem isn’t with the standards but with the way TDOE tricked lawmakers. I happen to like the Common Core standards but despised the way they are being assessed as a result of unqualified individuals not knowing the content well enough to understand the standards. I have a feeling if Momma Bears across the state will ask district and school leaders, as well as teachers and students, specific questions, you might get some very useful information.
Friday's testing may have been uneventful and TDOE may have acted like they had fixed everything. But what they didn't mention was that during the daily webinar, McQueen encouraged schools not to test on Friday because of the scheduled student walkouts. The only tests submitted yesterday were cleanups or makeups for the week. TDOE can say what they want, but there were no testing issues for us in the fall. The platform simply can't handle the number of users accessing the test so, I have no idea why they decided to add to the number of users by allowing grades 5-8 to test this spring online as well.
The crazy part is we have done three rounds of Case assessments with little disruption to teaching at a very reasonable price. The data was received quickly and our scores on final benchmarks last year were spot on with the scores we received on TNReady. That's appropriate testing. Instead of it being used to penalize a student or teacher, it provided guidance on where to spend instructional minutes.
So, why are we having to invest millions and countless hours on TNReady testing that yields data months later after students have moved on to another grade level and another teacher? It is of little value. At that point, it only serves as a gotcha against teachers. But, if students don't participate, the state penalizes the district through participation rates. This rating can affect the overall score given to a district. A lower score has an effect not just on schools but on the community as a whole. It's a ridiculous cycle.
Also, the legislation passed this week prohibits these scores from being grounds for dismissal of teachers this year; however, TDOE is still planning on generating TVAAS scores. (More about that here) That means this year's scores will factor into a teacher's overall rating for years to come. And even though districts/schools will not get an A-F rating, we were told last week we will still generate a participation rate, which potentially can be an issue since so many students /parents have rightfully so lost confidence in the test. Potentially districts/schools could be penalized because of TDOE/Questar's mistakes.
I have always supported the state and am excited about some of the changes we have made, but when I read what is and is not allowed for medical exemptions to the test, I was done. There is a student with an IEP who has severe anxiety. This student was making himself bleed to the point there was blood on his clothes. According to TDOE, he must still test. Pretty much the only students exempt are those who are receiving chemo or are in a coma. Even a student who is in a residential facility after attempting suicide is not exempt.
This teacher warns that testing protocols were breached
Others agree that procedures were not followed
So, we tried to get a copy of this year's state testing manual which is normally online for public view. At least, it has been on the TDOE website in past years. But this year, the test manual comes with a warning to educators not to share with the public. It is now considered to be a secure document.
Well, we got the testing protocols anyway—thanks to a lawyer friend in Nashville.
Were some students allowed to take the same subpart twice in violation of TNReady security protocols?
We think so.
During her testimony to the Joint Committee, Dr. McQueen explained that the test downloaded onto each computer so students were not interrupted when the "deliberate attack" occurred. The only time students should have realized there was a problem was at the end of the test period when they were unable to submit their answers. She said that all students were given the same 85 minute time frame to complete their test. They simply were unable to submit it. She further stated that when the system was back up & running, students or THEIR TEACHERS should have just hit submit. Say What???? Since when are teachers allowed to touch a student's computer and hit submit?
In any event, our readers are reporting that when students were locked out of submitting their essay test online, they were dismissed from the testing room and allowed to return either later that day or the next day. After returning to the testing environment, a variety of scenarios took place as laid out below. And from what we can tell, these different scenarios could have happened to students at the same school in the same testing room.
- Some students found their essays saved but the computer would only allow them to submit their answer.
- Others found their essays saved and could make edits but they were told not to change their answers.
- Others found part of their essays missing and were given time to finish and make edits to their answers.
- Others found their essays saved and were given another full 85 minutes to review & edit their answers
From my 9th grader “we were told not to make changes but the system would have allowed it if kids wanted to” The whole test is tainted, imo, and the scores are meaningless at this point.
They left the testing area for several hours including lunch so yes I’d say kids could definitely research and ask friends for help if they really wanted to.
My daughter's essay was halfway completed on Monday, and then the test was cancelled. Yesterday, her work from the day before had been saved and she wrote the second half. Then, she could not submit it. So what McQueen is saying is false.
Collierville parents reported that not all their students took the test yesterday, so kids who took it today heard the prompt from the students who took it (but could not turn it in) the day before
My 9th grader finished his essay and was not able to submit it. However 4 kids in his room were able to submit theirs. But no one else’s would go through and they did not return to the testing area.
My 8th grader said that when they tried to submit it showed as not submitted. When they got to school today some of the essays showed a status of completed and those students could only hit the submit button. Other students the essay did not have completed as a status and technically they could have made changes but were told not to and told to submit it just like it was.
That is true for my daughter, they could only return to hit 'submit'. I do wonder though, what if someone else hit a key or something blanked out or timed out...
My 9th grade son answered a couple of multiple choice questions then wrote an essay. He could not submit his answers so his class was dismissed from testing. The next day, he was given the test over again. His essay had saved to his laptop so he had another 85 minutes the next day to review it and make changes. He said some of his classmates could not change their answers but others could.
And there are problems with the paper test too
I am a 4th grade TN educator and I am so worried and overworked all year long over THIS. I would be FIRED for my incompetence so long ago if this were me or any other teacher yet that woman and many others are making SIX figures of OUR tax money to TORTURE us and our students. I would allow you to use my name but please please don’t. I want to help and be an advocate and I will help you but I would be fired. I feel like our district leaders are on Candice’s side in this and they are data/accountability lovers. If it were another county that isn’t that way I would be taking out a newspaper article but I have to feed my family. Thank you! PLEASE check into the Paper testing issues. It is being overlooked.
I prefer my name not be mentioned please. I am a teacher. It’s too scary these days to say anything. But I wanted you to check into something. It is not just a problem with the online testing, even though that is the highlight of the issues right now with testing. The paper tests have had issues. Please look into that. I know for a fact 3rd and 4th grade Paper tests were supposed to have a “listening” part and I’m pretty sure the printing or something was done incorrectly. Something went wrong with the script portion of the listening portion leaving students to skip from say #20 to suddenly 29. Believe me when I say, that throws a kid for a loop! No joke. That may seem like no big deal to some but it is to a 8-10 year old. It confuses them and throws them so way off in their thinking.
I thought I would share some feedback I received from a 3rd grade teacher: First Writing Prompt - At the end of the directions, it says, "Take as much space as you need." At the end of the second page of lined paper where the students must right, it says, "Go On." When you turn the page there is no more room to write and a new passage starts. Directions for the first passage of subpart 2 states, "Place your finger on the word Directions at the top of the page." The only problem is there is no word Directions at the top of the page in the student book. Subpart 2 - sample question 4, part B states, 'For part B of sample question 2, you should have filled in circle S." It was part B of sample question 4, not 2. Time limit was off for subparts 2 and 3. Skipping complete sections in the book. Paragraph 4 of the second writing prompt on form C had a misprint in the passage that was read aloud to children.
For 3-8, TDOE created 2 forms of each test with multiple versions. It has been a logistical and scheduling nightmare for our schools. The reason for so many forms/versions is because TDOE is field testing additional items as they seek to stockpile items.
I wish they would stop pretending that these tests are for anything more than data-mining our children and funding...
Testing can't be suspended without requesting a waiver. I've heard no mention of that happening, but that is truly what needs to happen.
Call For Action
Here is our primer on legislation so you will know what to ask for when you contact your state legislators:
A piece of legislation has two sides. The House version and the Senate version. These bills must match. So when a change is made in the house, it must then be reflected and passed in the Senate. And vice-versa. And NONE of this is final until the governor signs it into law. So Momma Bears can jump up and down when some good ideas are introduced via amendment and passed. And you should thank lawmakers who are working hard to introduce these amendments. And who are speaking out, questioning the TDOE based on what they hear from constituents. But, remember that nothing has passed to the governor's desk yet. So don't get too excited.
We are aware of two amended bills:
HB1981 / SB1623
This bill has a conference committee report added to it. Both the House and Senate agreed to following:
The assessment provider shall reimburse the LEA or LEAs in which the misadministration occurred for any exam that does not result in a reportable score for the student
The assessment provider shall provide an opportunity for any student impacted by the misadministration to take the assessment again at no charge.
Each local board of education may choose the percentage within the range of zero percent (0%) to fifteen percent (15%) that scores from the TNReady assessments administered in the 2017-2018 school year shall count on a student's final grade for the spring semester.
Student performance and student growth data from the TNReady assessments administered in the 2017-2018 school year shall not be used to assign a letter grade to a school pursuant to this section.
Student performance and student growth data from the TNReady assessments administered in the 2017-2018 school year shall not be used to identify a school as a priority school or to assign a school to the achievement school district.
For the 2017-2018 school year, LEAs shall not base employment termination and compensation decisions for teachers on data generated by statewide assessments administered in the 2017-2018 school year.
HB1109 / SB0987
This bill contains amendments to try and stop the test from being given online. It allows LEA's to choose online or paper tests. It also tries to remove scores from grades, GPA's or teacher evaluations by giving teachers, students and school districts a choice to use the scores. And it states "The Commissioner of Education shall pursue all legal remedies available to the state pursuant to the terms of any contract for the administration of state assessments for any problems that occur in the administration of state assessments that prevent students from taking, completing, or receiving scores from a state assessment."
What You Can Do NOW!!!!!!
Neither of these amendments will stop testing for this year or address the invalidity or the harm to our students. Nor will they call for an investigation into testing irregularity.
If you want those things, you need to
Contact your state legislators and demand they pass legislation this week that includes everything!!
Contact the State Board of Education & Blow up their Facebook page!!
Email the Governor at firstname.lastname@example.org & Hit him up on Facebook too!!
Call McQueen at (615) 741-8457