education

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.

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TBI asked to investigate whether TNReady was hacked

State Education Commissioner Candice McQueen asked Wednesday that the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation and the state Office of Homeland Security investigate whether the computer system used in TNReady testing statewide was hacked this week. The commissioner told legislators she was “devastated” by the latest round of troubles for the system but will not heed Democrats’ call for her to resign.

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More TNReady testing turmoil — in classrooms and at the legislature

Testing of high school students under the state’s TNReady program was suspended in many school districts Tuesday after troubles that officials say may have been a “deliberate attack” via computers.

Reaction in the legislature: Democrats called for the resignation of Education Commissioner Candice McQueen because of repeated TNReady trouble. And the full House slapped amendments onto pending legislation that would require the tests to be administered on paper rather than on computers and limit the use of TNReady scores in teacher and student assessments.

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State drops two now-required tests for high school students

Tennessee will drop two end-of-course exams for high schoolers next school year in its most significant reduction of state testing in recent years, reports Chalkbeat Tennessee.

The state’s testing task force voted Monday to eliminate standardized tests for chemistry and English III — essentially cutting by more than half the amount of state-ordered testing for students in their junior year of high school.

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Report finds 109 TN school districts allow corporal punishment; legislature eyes new restrictions

A report from the state Comptroller’s Office says that 109 of the state’s 148 school districts still allow corporal punishment, though it’s rarely used in some of them. The report, requested by state legislators last year, also found that students suffering disabilities more often get corporal punishment than others.

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Legislator seeks state review after one school bus driver falls asleep, another charged with DUI

One Washington County school bus driver fell asleep at the wheel on Tuesday, leading to a mishap that sent several children to a hospital with minor injuries. On Wednesday, another Washington County school bus driver was arrested for DUI. On Friday, the county school superintendent, Kimber Halliburton, announced she had fired the system’s transportation director.

Now, state Rep. Matthew Hill (R-Jonesborough) has asked the state Department of Education to review the school system’s safety procedures, reports WJHL TV.

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Black skipped gubernatorial forum to attend fundraiser

U.S. Rep. Diane Black, who cited a scheduling conflict in declining an invitation to join other gubernatorial candidates at a Tuesday evening forum on education issues, attended a fundraiser instead, reports The Tennessean.

Tennessee gubernatorial candidates talk education during SCORE event at Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee, January 23, 2018. (Photo credit: Belmont Univeristy)

Tennessee gubernatorial candidates talk education during SCORE event at Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee, January 23, 2018. (Photo credit: Belmont University)

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Five gubernatorial candidates agree on most education issues

Five Tennessee gubernatorial candidates had a “cordial hourlong forum” on education Tuesday evening at Belmont University in Nashville, displaying few disagreements and making plenty of promises, reports The Tennessean.

Tennessee gubernatorial candidates talk education during SCORE event at Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee, January 23, 2018. (Photo credit: Belmont University)

Tennessee gubernatorial candidates talk education during SCORE event at Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee, January 23, 2018. (Photo credit: Belmont University)

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Knox County school board renews lobbying contract, criticizes legislators

The Knox County Schools Board of Education voted to continue paying for lobbying at the Legislature Wednesday after a discussion that included criticism of legislators, reports the News Sentinel.

“It’s been our local lawmakers pushing forward on harmful legislation that has impacted our schools and all schools in Tennessee,” said board member Jennifer Owen. “They accuse board members of only being interested in what teachers want and refuse to acknowledge the decades of experience many of us have in education.”

The board voted 7-2 to approve the funding for the lobbying group, Millsaps Gowan Government Relations. Knox County Schools will pay the group $37,500 to renew the contract it shares with the three other largest school districts across the state.  (Note: That’s known as the Coalition of Large School Systems.)

…”Our legislators refuse to listen to us in meetings and have gone so far as to insult board members in person and deny us access to meetings they have with teachers,” Owen went on. “It’s sad we need a lobbying group to let our legislators hear our concerns rather than have them shared by our own representatives.”

…’Myself personally and other members of the board have reached out numerous times to this delegation and tried to grow our relationship with them,” said board member Amber Rountree.

She said the board “does not have a relationship with the delegation where we’re on the same page.”

“I would be open to suggestions on how we can foster a positive relationship because I know I’m not the only one who has tried to work with our representatives and have a conversation that involves empirical data showing that things like Pre-K are absolutely essential,” Rountree said.

“We have experienced some adverse legislation from our delegation, but I think that speaks to our responsibility to get the types of things into legislation that we want,” Norman said. “To go ahead and spend this kind of money on a lobbyist when it’s our responsibility, I just don’t agree with it, so I’ll be voting against it.”

‘Myself personally and other members of the board have reached out numerous times to this delegation and tried to grow our relationship with them,” said board member Amber Rountree. She said the board “does not have a relationship with the delegation where we’re on the same page.”

DeVos in TN speech: ‘I’m just getting started!’

Speaking in Nashville at the National Summit on Education Reform, U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos rallied education leaders to expand “school choice,” took swipes at teachers unions and Democrats, and put in a good word for her boss’s campaign to overhaul the nation’s tax structure.

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