Angry legislators ditch 2018 TNReady test scores in swift, bipartisan votes

Moving swiftly Thursday amid reports of more problems with TNReady testing across the state, both the House and Senate overwhelmingly approved sweeping legislation to block use of this year’s test scores from accountability systems for students, teachers, schools, and districts, reports Chalkbeat Tennessee.

A spokeswoman said Gov. Bill Haslam will sign the legislation. (It’s HB1981, as revised in a House-Senate Conference Committee that was created, met and reached a deal on bill contents that was then approved in both chambers — all in a matter of hours. The final House vote was 84-1; the Senate vote 24-1.)

The votes circumvented the legislature’s committee process but, after days of technical problems with the state’s return to online testing, lawmakers had reached a boiling point. In the midst of an election year, they rose to their feet and, one after another, railed against the Department of Education and its testing company, Questar, for their oversight of the beleaguered test.

At midday, the Senate and House convened a conference committee as a bipartisan coalition of House members used passage of the state’s $37.5 billion budget as a bargaining chip. With lawmakers going back and forth to the governor’s office to confer, they tacked on their amendment to a bill sponsored by Rep. Eddie Smith of Knoxville and Sen. Dolores Gresham of Somerville.

“The camel was already loaded down heavy, but this was the straw that broke the camel’s back,” Smith said of more testing glitches on Thursday. “The circumstances were so extraordinary that going through the traditional committee process did not serve our teachers or students. That’s why we did what we did.”

What they did was pass a bill to:

Let local school boards determine, between a range of 0 and 15 percent, what TNReady scores will count toward students’ final grades;

Prevent local districts from using the scores for any decisions related to hiring, firing, or compensating teachers;

Ensure that none of this year’s TNReady data can be used to put a school on the “priority list” of lowest-performing schools eligible for state intervention; and

Nix the use of TNReady data in determining A-F ratings for schools, a system that’s to begin this fall

“It was clear many members of the General Assembly wanted to address concerns related to the recent administration of state assessments,” Haslam spokeswoman Jennifer Donnals said in a statement. “The governor understands these concerns and did not oppose the legislation.”

The decision means Tennessee will take a breath as it seeks to fix its broken testing system, which has been snakebit from the outset. In 2016, Education Commissioner Candice McQueen canceled most testing after TNReady’s new online platform collapsed under the weight of statewide testing on newly minted digital devices. The next year, Tennessee reverted to mostly paper-and-pencil tests, but there were scoring and score delivery issues under new vendor Questar.

5 Responses to Angry legislators ditch 2018 TNReady test scores in swift, bipartisan votes

  • Celia Simon says:

    And we taxpayers are still stuck with the bill to Questar?
    So we continue to reward incompetence in a company which probably cites a contract to justify being paid for not succeeding.

  • William Upton says:

    So does this mean there is no 2018 accountability for students, teachers and schools?

    • Cannoneer2 says:

      If you look at it that way, I guess that that accountability will be equal to the accountability for the Governor and Education Commissioner then.

  • Tommy Ray McAnally says:

    Privatizing ain’t never worked and ain’t going to BILL HASLAM AND HIS BUNCH ARE TO BLAME FOR THIS WHOLE SCREW UP THERE IS NEVER ANGTHING DONE TO THESE KIND OF PEOPLE. YET. PEOPLE THIS IS NOTHING BUT DISCOMBOBULATED THE TAXPAYERS AGAIN. PEOPLE VOTE EVERYBODY ON THE HILL OUT. THEN THEY WILL HEAR YOU.

  • Tommy Ray McAnally says:

    The only REASON Legislation DITCH THIS BILLTHEY ALL SCREWED UP AGAIN THIS IS THE NORMAL. DRAIN THE HILL THE LEGISLATURES FORGOT TO SAY LOBBYIST MAY I. ANYBODY BUT JUDD MATHENT. Accountability are you joking these Peps and Senators can’t spell accountability. Hey , Haslam DON’T forget The Vietnam Traveling Wall is IN Cookeville, take Judd Matheny,Black,Blackburn,Alexander,Cooper and Dajaria with you maybe on your way y’all can figure out another way to SCREW THE VETERANS. How many of you are VETERANS?

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