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TNReady Testing Patience of Parents

TNReady testing is delayed again in some school systems because some materials did not arrive to the schools on time for scheduled testing this week. (RyanMcGilchrist/flickr.com)
TNReady testing is delayed again in some school systems because some materials did not arrive to the schools on time for scheduled testing this week. (RyanMcGilchrist/flickr.com)
April 27, 2016

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. - For the second time, school districts across Tennessee prepared to take state-mandated tests, only to find that the tests weren't ready. Earlier this year, the online tests - part of the TNReady program - weren't able to handle the volume. This week the paper tests meant to replace the online version didn't arrive on time to elementary and middle schools.

For thousands of Tennessee parents and students, it feels like a scene out of the movie "Groundhog Day."

Steve Dedman's daughter attends Knox County schools, and he's been reminding her that this year the test results don't count.

"She's had a little bit of stress about it. 'What if I don't do good on it?' But next year when it starts counting as part of their grade, it's a different story," Dedman said. "Hopefully by then they will have actually figured out if they actually do know what they're doing."

Knox County schools are directing schools to administer tests after they arrive at a time that works for each school's schedule. The tests are being administered by a North Carolina-based company, Measurement Inc. In a public statement, the company said it is working to get the testing material to students.

Doug Hornback has three children in Maryville city schools. That school system wasn't scheduled to administer the tests until next week and doesn't expect a second delay. But Hornback said that as a taxpayer, he's upset that a paid vendor didn't make good on a commitment.

"When they get awarded a contract and they're getting paid by the state, it seems like they should be able to have everything already ready to rock," he said. "As soon as they had a hiccup with the online portion of the test taking, they immediately abandoned it and went to the paper format."

The deadline for schools to finish the TNReady test is May 10. The state has said it will not extend the testing window past that date. Dedman said he'd rather his daughter learn new material instead of concentrating on memorization of test material.

"My biggest problem with the whole thing is just the amount of testing that there is," he said. "There's four sessions, that's ridiculous. That's two days worth of instructional time, and they've been reviewing for a month, month-and-a-half now."

The TNReady tests are meant to replace Tennessee's Common Core test. So far, the state has paid $1.6 million of its $108 million contract with Measurement Inc.

Stephanie Carson, Public News Service - TN