Education commissioner reviewing TNReady testing

Education commissioner reviewing TNReady testing

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - A new round of TNReady standardized testing is coming soon for students and teachers.

Friday, the newly-appointed commissioner toured several Memphis-area schools.

WMC5 spoke with her to find out if Tennessee is ready after years of problems with the test.

In her first Mid-South trip in this new role, Commissioner Penny Schwinn toured several schools in the Memphis-area today hoping to get a better idea of what needs to improve.

We asked her specifically about TNReady tests.

"An excellent education is an entitlement for every child in the state of Tennessee,” Schwinn said.

Schwinn said she wants to focus on excellence, empowerment and engagement when it comes to education.

"I feel very confident that our team has really looked into that,” Schwinn said.

The standardized tests have had problems in the past.

According to the state comptroller's report, in 2018 those problems ranged from test tracking failures to lack of support staff.

They're issues Dr. Tedd Horrell, Superintendent of Lakeland Schools, says produced invalid results.

"They had to start and stop and submit and re-submit and were unsure whether or not in some cases the answers were actually being submitted,” Horrell said.

Schwinn said her team is reviewing the Tennessee Comptroller's Office report, which detailed issues with Questar the vendor behind the distribution of tests.

That report also put some blame on the Department of Education's oversight of test administration.

"What are the findings that happened from last testing season and then looking specifically at what it is that our team has done to both look at the root cause or why it happened and how it's been corrected and then proven evidence that that correction took place,” Schwinn said.

Schwinn says they're working with the vendor to ensure everything goes smoothly this year.

Natalia Powers with Shelby County Schools says they’re prepared and are also hopeful things will improve.

"The test itself, obviously, that's a little bit outside our control, but like always we'll work with the State,” Powers said.

High schools will test online, and middle schools will go back to paper and pencil.

The state will put out a new request for proposal for a new testing vendor in the coming weeks and is hoping to have a vendor in place before the end of the fiscal year.

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