Wilson County Director of Schools Dr. Donna Wright told county commissioners Monday the local school system is pursuing a private act from the state Legislature that would allow it to use an assessment other than the one currently mandated.
In her monthly report to the commission, Wright expressed her dissatisfaction with the TNReady test, saying that, “We are four years in without any or little actionable data that teachers can use.”
The TNReady test is conducted online and part of the TCAP assessment that measures student achievement and teacher effectiveness. Scores affect a wide range of considerations but perhaps most importantly is the future class placement of students, teachers’ salaries and placing letter grades on school systems that could factor into such situations as the recruitment of industry to an area.
TNReady has been plagued by bugs and glitches the last two years, including students being unable to login and/or submit test responses. Other issues included extended delays in getting back test results.
The problems have been so widespread that the state Legislature voted to hold harmless students, teachers and school systems for 2017-18.
In an interview with The Wilson Post following Monday’s commission meeting, Wright said the TNReady method is a high-stakes, one-day “snapshot” that is ineffective in assessing student achievement and teacher effectiveness.
“We are absolutely advocates of accountability because that’s how we know what to improve and where to improve,” Wright said adamantly. “But the fallacy in all this is that we haven’t had an effective system in four years, but we still keep using information that is not only in error, but late in coming.”
Wright said the assessment results come back so late that it’s “like doing an autopsy after you’ve lost a patient to see what we need to do for the next year.”
The Post asked Wright what the county school system is looking at specifically to move past TNReady. She said the county system is asking the state for a private act, not a resolution, that would allow exemption from state testing and allow Wilson County the freedom to find a new test on its own.
Wright described the ideal test as one that’s cost-effective, delivers results quickly and focuses less on testing.
“Right now, we are devoting too much time to testing at the expense of instruction,” she said.
Wright said there are a few tests on the county’s radar when it comes to possible replacements and mentioned ACT Aspire by name, saying it measures student progress longitudinally over their careers from grade three and delivers feedback quickly.