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Test fails
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The state can’t shake its failing grade when it comes to standardized testing.

For the third straight year, problems engulfing TN Ready have made the statewide test a bumbling example of incompetency. Warren County Director of Schools Bobby Cox reports local online testing was disrupted in Warren County on Monday and Tuesday.

“It’s really frustrating,” said Cox. “The students are ready, the teachers are ready, and then they can’t take the test.”

The problems Monday stemmed from students being unable to log on to take the test. In a news release from Education Commissioner Candice McQueen, the state said the problems Monday were not due to a server crash and had nothing to do with the volume of users.
Cox said some students at WCHS were able to complete the test Monday. Others logged on, but couldn’t finish. Others couldn’t access the site at all.

On Tuesday, state education officials believe a deliberate attack on the TN Ready system is to blame. In an email sent after alleged attack, McQueen said, “To our knowledge, no student data has been compromised.”

Cox said troubles with TN Ready testing are especially troubling because so much is tied to test scores. He said the state is working on plans to grade schools based on these scores.

“With the state going to A through F grades for schools, how can you grade a school or a student if you don’t have faith in the results?” asked Cox. “It’s mandatory for high school to take the test online and it seems like they can’t handle the load of everybody in the state getting on at the same time and who knows what could happen with a cyberattack.

“We had the option of taking the elementary school test online and we said no, we’re not going to do that,” Cox continued. “And it wasn’t because of any fault at the local level. They say they want us to take the tests online because we get the results back faster, but that doesn’t seem to happen. They might want to take a look at what the ACT is doing. We just had some students take the ACT with paper and pencil and we got the results back in a week.”

TN Ready has been an implosion since its inception during the 2015-16 school year. That year, testing was canceled completely for grades 3-8, and test vendor Measurement, Inc., was fired for failing to distribute enough paper tests once the online version collapsed.
New vendor Questar has not excelled. What was described as a software issue prevented Questar from returning test scores in time to be included in final grades last year.

Then, in October 2017, McQueen announced about 9,400 TN Ready tests has been scored incorrectly, affecting 70 schools in 33 districts.
It’s been mentioned by state lawmakers that the failings of TN Ready are hurting teacher morale since 20 percent of teacher evaluation scores are tied to TN Ready results. Lawmakers have suggested suspending that requirement since TN Ready results are not reliable.