State announces changes to TNReady tests after continual problems

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - Shelby County Schools Superintendent Dorsey Hopson was one of many school leaders critical of Tennessee's latest online testing effort that turned into a debacle.

Next year students will see changes.

"This is the direction Tennessee will move, but we want to make sure we are phasing in online based on successful proof points to help us get to the next stage," Tennessee Education Commissioner Candice McQueen said.

For next school year, students in grades 3-8 will go back to paper and pencil to take the test, while high school students will continue to test online.

The state will also put out a new request for proposals for a new testing vendor in 2019-2020, and alter the contract of the current vendor Questar for this year.

"One of the reasons this year was so infuriating to a lot of people was it was the second time it happened," Caroline Bauman, who covers education in Memphis for Chalkbeat Tennessee, said.

This spring, Commissioner McQueen faced backlash from lawmakers, parents, teachers, and superintendents over the latest TNReady issues.

Technical problems and snafus delayed districts from testing which created stressful situations for students.

"I think parents are frustrated, and our staff and testing directors are certainly frustrated," Lakeland Schools Superintendent Ted Horrell said.

Horrell said McQueen met with school leaders in previous weeks and told them changes were coming but expressed the state was committed to online testing.

He added that a reprieve from full online testing until leaders can get it right may help restore trust in the system.

"There's just such a lack of confidence in the assessment system that I think it's the right thing for the state is to try and build up that confidence," Horrell said.

Because of the recent testing issue, Tennessee lawmakers approved a proposal that prevents this year's TNReady scores from counting against school districts.

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