TREND Fall 2018 - Page 19

“Coleman Report”), concluded that the key predictors of student performance were social class, family background and education, and family attitudes toward education. Researcher Eric Hanushek, added the significance of the Coleman Report was that it “dramatically changed the currency of policy debate to student outcomes. Prior to the report, school inputs—spending per pupil, teacher‒pupil ratios, and the like—were customarily viewed as roughly synonymous with results.” Testing Again We all recognize we have a testing issue in our state. It is not debatable that thus in the new Age of Accountability students, teachers, parents and taxpayers have not fared well. Tennessee has placed too much emphasis on testing, especially the TNReady Exam in the eyes of many educators. Since 2012, Tennessee has had one misstep after another in testing. In 2013, our tests were not aligned to our standards. In 2014, the issue was transparency, notably quick scores and test score waivers for final semester grades were the major issue. In 2015, the new TNReady online tests had issues in the post equating formula. In 2016, we fired the vendor Measurement, Inc after the online platform was botched and they were unable to get out a paper version of the test. In 2017, we were again plagued by issues due to scoring discrepancies. This year 2018, issues related to testing, included the belief by the testing vendor Questar that their data center was attacked from an external source, although it is not believed at this time that any student data was compromised. Later a cable was disabled that impacted student testing. Also, Questar attempted to upgrade the system in the middle of testing, which is also questionable. Does Tennessee have the capability to move to online testing? Even our state leadership now questions whether Tennessee should continue with Questar as our vendor, and will bid it out in 2019. To policymakers and stakeholders alike we must ask these questions and look at leaders who can address these issues: a. Why are we relying so heavily on test scores to make important educational decisions about students, teachers or schools, especially when the process is clearly flawed? b. Should we question the reliability, validity, and accuracy of testing in Tennessee since 2013? Especially when shifting between online to paper tests? i. Reliability relates to the accuracy of their data. Reliability problems in education often arise when researchers overstate the importance of data drawn from too small or too restricted a sample. ii. Validity refers to the essential truthfulness of a piece of data. By asserting validity, does the data actually measure or reflect what is claimed? c. Should we look at something already developed by a company like ACT or SAT, find another vendor altogether or bring it totally in-house to be managed by the Tennessee Department of Education? continued on page 34