For the third time this year, Tennessee’s new standardized assessment has hit a road bump, likely causing further delays in testing students in grades 3-8.
As of Thursday, all districts across the state had received testing materials for high school but had yet to receive materials for testing younger grades for the second part of TNReady, according to the State Department of Education.
State officials blamed shipping delays by testing vendor Measurement Inc. and could offer no indication of when the tests will arrive.
The testing window for TNReady Part II begins on Monday and continues through May 10, though grades 3-8 originally were supposed to finish testing by May 6.
In an email sent to districts on Wednesday, state officials placed the blame squarely on North Carolina-based Measurement Inc.:
…(Measurement Inc.) assured us that all Part II testing materials would arrive in districts by April 22. Furthermore, this date was referenced as worst case by MI. Last Wednesday, on April 13, MI notified that us they would not meet this timeline for delivery of all grades 3-8 materials. Since then, we have repeatedly requested additional specifics on the estimated date of arrival for all remaining materials.
The latest delay marks the third large-scale challenge to administering Tennessee’s new assessment in as many months. The test was first delayed on Feb. 8 after its online launch failed, prompting state officials to instruct districts to revert to paper-based tests. In late February and March, “printing capacity issues” caused later-than-expected deliveries of paper testing materials, forcing some districts to reschedule TNReady’s Part I testing.
In the email, state officials said they “are extremely frustrated” that they can’t provide specific delivery timelines, and are giving districts extra time to administer tests to students in grades 3-8.
“… Districts may modify their testing schedules as needed, without any prior approval or notice to the (state),” the email said.
The latest delays mean that students in some counties will be taking TNReady instead of doing other activities such as field trips scheduled for later in the school year.
Parents in Wilson and Sumner counties and Athens City were notified on Thursday about the changeup.
“We had planned to start (testing) next week, and our goal is still to start next week,” said Jennifer Cochrane, testing coordinator for Wilson County Schools.
Sumner County Schools posted on Facebook Thursday afternoon that testing in that county would not start until May 2.
TNReady is central to the state’s system of accountability for students, educators, schools and districts. It is the state’s first assessment aligned to Tennessee’s current Common Core academic standards. (Recently revised standards will reach Tennessee classrooms in the 2017-18 school year.)
As the testing window for Part II approached, district officials were cautiously optimistic that testing hiccups — and the interruptions to instructional time that accompanied them — were over.
But even before the state’s latest announcement, many parents and teachers were wary. Anticipating bugs and concerned about over-testing, more than 2,300 people signed a petition asking the state to cancel Part II altogether.
Next year there will at least be fewer opportunities for delays: the state is nixing Part I of the math assessment.