UPDATE: TNReady Assessment Failure Leads to Pencil and Paper Use

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Students in Rutherford County and around the state were prepared to take the TNReady Assessment Tests only to find out the online system at the state level failed.

James Evans, spokesman for Rutherford County Schools, told NewsRadio WGNS Monday that they had to halt testing because of the issues...

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Late Monday, the technology failures at the state caused the Tennessee Department of Education to notify school directors across the state that tests would be administered by paper and pencil for the remainder of the current school year.

Students, teachers and administrators have been working toward and planning for the assessment tests all year. Not only that, but the school systems around the state, including Rutherford County and Murfreesboro City, have spent considerable dollars to ensure technology was in place for the testing.

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This isn't the first time the online testing platform has failed. In fact, failures similar to what happened Monday occurred during practice tests in the fall and as late as last month.

The Tennessee Education Association - also known as the T-E-A - issued a statement from President Barbara Gray following the testing failures on Monday.

TEA has long had concerns about this transition to a statewide online assessment. We have seen problems with pilot assessments and practice tests in the past, and unfortunately the first day of TNReady resulted in more issues and frustrations for our students and teachers.

Leading up to today's testing, we have heard from educators and parents statewide about concerns with the state's capacity to handle so many students on the server at one time, as well as concerns about local districts having enough resources to complete the testing with so little funding from the state.

It is unacceptable to have this kind of statewide failure when the state has tied so many high-stakes decisions to the results of this assessment. Our students and teachers have enough stress and anxiety around these assessments without adding additional worries about technical issues.

The state must grant a one-year waiver - at a minimum - from including TNReady scores in teacher evaluations. It is unfair and inappropriate to stake our teachers' professional standing on flawed, unreliable test scores in any year, but there are even greater implications and uncertainty while implementing a new assessment.

Below is a letter sent to all schools and media from TN Commissioner of Education Candice McQueen:

Directors,

Thank you for your patience as we faced technical challenges with the MIST platform this morning. At 8:25 a.m. CST the state's vendor for TNReady, Measurement Incorporated, experienced a severe network outage, causing significant problems with the MIST platform. Like you, we are incredibly disappointed that the MIST platform was not accessible to schools across the state as the Part I testing window opened.

Shortly after learning about the issue, we advised that schools experiencing problems with the test discontinue testing, and return to their normal classes.

Throughout the 2015-16 school year, the department has continuously worked with Measurement Incorporated to strengthen the online testing platform. As a result of district feedback and through our efforts to collaborate, we have mitigated and eliminated many technical issues. The online platform has undergone many capacity tests, yielding actionable information to drive improvements. Following Break MIST Day last October, we've made significant investments in server capacity. As a follow up to our Jan. 12 capacity test, the department's technology team also spent multiple weeks in the field visiting select districts around the state to reproduce system errors in a real-world, real-time situation to gather better diagnostic information. As a result of this continued analysis, we offered districts the option to move to paper testing as we saw continuing issues with how the platform interacted with districts' infrastructure.

Unfortunately, issues have continued to arise with the online platform. The new nature of the issue this morning has highlighted the uncertainly around the stability of Measurement Inc.'s testing platform, MIST. Despite the many improvements the department has helped to make to the system in recent months and based on the events of this morning, we are not confident in the system's ability to perform consistently. In the best interest of our students and to protect instructional time, we cannot continue with Measurement Incoporated's online testing platform in its current state. Moving forward, during the 2015-16 school year TNReady will be administered via paper and pencil (both Part I and Part II).

We thank districts, schools, and teachers for their commitment and perseverance to move our students to a 21st century learning environment. We know this is what the real world requires. We understand and appreciate the investment of time, money, and effort it has taken to attain readiness.

As a result of a statewide shift to paper and pencil, we will delay and extend the Part I testing window. Measurement Incorporated is currently scheduling the printing and shipping of the paper tests, and the department will share the revised testing window with districts by Thursday of this week. We understand that the shift to paper and pencil testing has many scheduling implications for your schools, teachers, and students. We thank you for your patience and cooperation as we transition to a test medium that we are confident will allow all students to show what they know.

TNReady is designed to assess true student understanding and problem-solving abilities, not just basic memorization skills. Regardless of the medium of assessment, this new and improved test will provide schools, teachers, and parents with valuable information about our students college and career readiness.

Best,

Candice

PREVIOUSLY REPORTED

A technology failure at the state level has affected the schedule for TNReady assessment testing. James Evans, spokesman for Rutherford County Schools, tells NewsRadio WGNS...

For those who may not know, TNReady is the state's new TCAP test in English language arts and math for grades three through 11.

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James Evans, NewsRadio WGNS, Rutherford County Schools, student testing, TCAP, testing, TNReady
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