TNReady tests to be given via paper, pencil after tech failure

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. (WKRN/WATE) – Students across the state came to school prepared to take the TNReady assessment test on Monday to find out the online system had failed.

School systems have spent months preparing students for the tests only to be disappointed that the online site crashed. Officials later announced that due to the failure, tests would be administered by paper and pencil for the remainder of the 2015-16 school year.

It began Monday morning when the Tennessee Department of Education commissioner sent an email to school directors saying around 8:25 a.m. the MIST platform, or Measurement Inc. Standardized Testing, experienced major outages across the state.

The commissioner wrote, “These outages were caused because the network utilized by Measurement Inc. experience failure. We are urgently working with Measurement Inc. to identify the caused and correct the problem.”

A Knox County Schools spokeswoman says about 20 schools were scheduled to take part in the testing Monday, but could not because of the outages. A revised testing window has not yet been set.

Students in English II at Riverdale High School should have started taking the TNReady online assessment test Monday but instead found themselves back on their regular schedule learning persuasive writing.

Riverdale’s assistant principal, Chelsea Spaulding, has been working feverously to make sure students and teachers were ready for TNReady.

“We started planning at the beginning of the school year,” Spaulding said. “We got a schedule that would work for first and second semester.”

She was disappointed when the MIST system failed.

“It’s definitely a mental game. Our students were prepared, our teachers were prepared,” Spaulding added. “We made sure that we pumped them up and make sure that everyone was going to work hard for this. We get them in the environment and the test didn’t work.”

Rutherford County Schools officials sent an email to parents letting them know this was not a district but a statewide issue with the company that administers the test.

“Our network and new computers worked as they were intended. We are eagerly awaiting an update from the state about when and how we should move forward,” said schools spokesman James Evans.

School officials said on two different occasions there was a practice run on this MIST platform, one in the fall and one in January—and both times, the system failed.

TNReady replaces the T-CAP English and Math assessments.

But Department of Education officials tell News 2 that 2.5 million practice tests have been taken on MIST this school year, and 171,000 End of Course tests were successfully completed in in 99 counties in November and December.

All teachers and students can do now is wait to find out when they will get another opportunity to take the TNReady assessments.

“We will have to reschedule and come up with a new game plan,” Spaulding said.

The Tennessee Education Association, or TEA, president Barbara Gray released the following statement:

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.

Part 1 of the TNReady testing window was supposed to begin Monday and end March 4. The Part 2 testing window will begin later this spring.

Later Monday, the Tennessee Department of Education commissioner sent an updated letter informing school district directors that “moving forward, during the 2015-16 school year, TNReady will be administered via paper and pencil (both Part I and Part II).”

“As a result of a statewide shift to paper and pencil, we will delay and extend the Part I testing window. [MIST] 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.”

 

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