Here’s what students at one Tennessee high school have to say about taking TNReady

Tired after a day of testing, students poured out of East Nashville Magnet High School on Thursday. Many were unaware that students at a neighboring middle school, as well as at elementary and middle schools across the state, are no longer required to take the state’s new standardized test.

When they found out, they were frustrated.

“I feel kind of horrible,” said sophomore Oscar Parra about the news.

“It’s annoying,” junior DeCorya Moore said. “We’ve had tests back-to-back.”

From left: Christian Bissinger, Kevin Freeman, Gregory Nichols Jr., and Devanté Woodard (Grace Tatter)

Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools joined districts across the state in canceling Part II of TNReady for grades 3-8 this week. The decision came after state Education Commissioner Candice McQueen announced the suspension of testing for the state’s younger students due to repeated delivery delays of printed testing materials. McQueen instructed, however, that TNReady testing continue as planned for the state’s high school students in grades 9-11, since those materials already have been delivered.

High school students in at least two Tennessee districts are being spared the angst of their counterparts in Nashville — for now. District leaders in Lincoln and Williamson counties canceled TNReady for high school students too, drawing a stern reprimand from McQueen.

“Failure to administer the high school assessments will adversely impact students who will not only lose the experience of an improved, high quality test aligned to our higher standards but also the information we plan to provide to students, parents and educators relative to student performance,” McQueen wrote to district superintendents on Thursday.

At East Nashville Magnet High School, many students said they would be OK without getting test results — especially since they won’t receive their scores until next fall.

“We already have exams, anyway,” Decorya said.

High school students have watched on — sometimes in bemusement — as TNReady testing has been delayed, delayed and delayed again.

Devanté Woodard is a senior, so he doesn’t have to take TNReady. But he’s been following the developments and said he laughed when he saw on Facebook that younger students no longer had to take the test. “It’s kind of funny,” he said. “I don’t know why they didn’t do that earlier.”

Even without taking TNReady, Devanté has been impacted by the delays. His senior week was postponed so underclassmen could test this week.

Seniors also have had to accommodate the on-again, off-again testing schedule. “During testing, there were one or two floors you couldn’t go on,” said Gregory Nichols Jr.

High schoolers taking the test said they’ve been surprised by the setbacks, but have been able to roll with the punches. Many said they preferred taking a paper-and-pencil test instead of an online assessment, which was the original plan before the testmaker’s new online platform failed on the first day of testing on Feb. 8.

“The questions seem easier on paper,” explained ninth-grader Laila Bond.

Most students said the tests were harder this year, with fewer multiple-choice questions.

“With multiple choice, at least you have a chance of getting it right,” said sophomore Bryce Nelson.

In fact, TNReady was designed to be more rigorous by emphasizing critical thinking skills instead of rote memorization.

Bryce added that he wasn’t nervous about the added rigor — but his teachers seemed to be. That’s one reason he would have been happy for high school tests to be canceled.

“It’s just testing,” he said.