2016-17 State of Education in Tennessee - Page 37

INSISTING ON HIGH EXPECTATIONS
Academic standards set the foundation for what students are expected to learn . Tennessee ’ s rigorous standards set the clear expectation that all Tennessee students are capable of a high level of achievement , and we now have an assessment aligned to those standards .
STUDENT ASSESSMENT . During the 2015-16 school year , Tennessee began implementing a new set of assessments that reflected the state ’ s commitments to both high expectations and alignment to state academic standards . These new TNReady assessments , however , had a difficult first year in large part because of failures by the state ’ s former testing vendor , Measurement , Inc . Although the test was initially scheduled to be administered online , technology problems at Measurement , Inc . on the first full day of administration led TDOE to move the test to paper and pencil . The vendor ’ s inability to print and deliver all paper exams led TDOE to cancel the second portion of the two-part exams in grades 3-8 . High school students completed exams in English , math , social studies , and science ( results are provided earlier in this report ). TNReady results represented a reset for how student achievement is measured in the state . Results showed large numbers of students were not on track based on the state ’ s new performance levels . Because the percentages of students on track to graduate ready for postsecondary options matched performance on national measures like ACT , TNReady is showing early promise of being a reliable measure of college and career readiness . TNReady also brings unique value as a set of assessments aligned to Tennessee ’ s academic standards .
In July 2016 , TDOE announced the selection of a new testing vendor , Questar , to implement TNReady exams beginning in the 2016-17 school year . Commissioner McQueen cited Questar ’ s “ recent experience developing a large-scale test thoughtfully and urgently ” in TDOE ’ s announcement . 36
Compared to the previous TNReady test design , TDOE announced substantial reductions to the amount of time students will spend testing and in the number of test items in the 2016-17 school year . Overall , testing time for state exams will be reduced by 30 percent , or 200-210 minutes for grades 3-8 and 40 to 120 minutes for high school . Although a pilot of online testing for high schools is expected for some districts , most students will take 2016-17 state assessments by pencil and paper . The state has a plan to phase in online administration of assessments in the future . 37
Prior to the implementation of TNReady , the 2015 Assessment Task Force , convened by Commissioner McQueen , produced a set of recommendations for ensuring high-quality assessment in Tennessee . Several recommendations required legislative action . During 2016 , the General Assembly passed SB 2540 / HB 1537 , the Data Accessibility , Transparency and Accountability Act , which provided for additional test transparency , the elimination of unnecessary tests , and an additional opportunity for students to take the ACT college entrance exam . Governor Haslam signed the bill into law in April .
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