The State Department of Education will start Monday to distribute the test score data that goes into students’ final report cards, but it won’t arrive in time for every district across the state.
That’s because some districts already have ended their school years, some won’t have time to incorporate TNReady grades before dismissing their students, and some missed the state’s first deadline for turning in testing materials.
“Our timelines for sharing TNReady scores are on track,” spokeswoman Sara Gast said Friday, noting that the schedule was announced last fall. “We have said publicly that districts will receive raw score data back in late May.”
Shelby County Schools is waiting to see when their scores arrive before making a decision. A spokeswoman said Tennessee’s largest district met all testing deadlines, and needs the scores by Monday to tabulate them into final grades. The district’s last day of school is next Friday.
School leaders in Nashville and Kingsport already have chosen to exclude the data from final grades, while Williamson County Schools is delaying their report cards.
A 2015 state law lets districts opt to exclude the data if scores aren’t received at least five instructional days before the end of the school year.
TNReady scores are supposed to count for 10 percent of this year’s final grades. As part of the transition to TNReady, the weight gradually will rise to between 15 and 25 percent (districts have flexibility) as students and teachers become more familiar with the new test.
The first wave of scores are being sent just weeks after Education Commissioner Candice McQueen declared this year’s testing a “success,” both on paper and online for the 24 districts that opted to test high school students online this year. Last year, Tennessee had a string of TNReady challenges in the test’s inaugural year. After the online platform failed and numerous delivery delays of printed testing materials, McQueen canceled testing in grades 3-8 and fired its previous test maker, Measurement Inc.
Tennessee test scores have been tied to student grades since 2011, but this is the first year that the state used a three-week testing window instead of two. Gast said the added time was to give districts more flexibility to administer their tests. But even with the added week, this year’s timeline was consistent with past years, she said.
Once testing ended on May 5, school districts had five days to meet the first deadline, which was on May 10, to return those materials over to Questar, the state’s new Minneapolis-based testing company.
School officials in Nashville said that wasn’t enough time.
“Due to the volume of test documents and test booklets that we have to account for and process before return for scoring, our materials could not be picked up before May 12,” the district said in a statement on Thursday.
Because districts turned in their testing materials at different times, the release of raw scores, will also be staggered across the next three weeks, Gast said.