McQueen reconvenes testing task force on TNReady and more

For a second straight year, Education Commissioner Candice McQueen will convene a task force to address concerns about standardized testing in Tennessee, the Department of Education announced Wednesday.

But this year, the spotlight on the group’s work will be bigger due to the bumpy rollout — and eventual cancellation — of the state’s new TNReady test and the science and social studies TCAP assessments for grades 3-8.

“Reconvening this group of leaders across the state, in addition to welcoming new members, gives us an opportunity to continue the dialogue around creating intentional and streamlined assessments,” McQueen said. “This group’s thoughtful work led to 16 recommendations in the first report – all of which are being implemented.”

McQueen formed the first task force months after taking office in 2015 as a result of feedback from the field about the amount and quality of testing. The panel’s recommendations, which included eliminating assessments in four grades and releasing test questions, were implemented this year with the help of the Tennessee legislature.

This year’s 21-member task force includes five new members.

Beginning Thursday in Nashville, the group will meet monthly through early fall. Members will be charged with assessing this year’s standardized tests and giving feedback on specific assessment and accountability-related items as the State Department of Education works to develop Tennessee’s plan to implement the federal Every Student Succeeds Act.

Ex-officio members will include representatives from the Department of Education, the State Collaborative on Reforming Education, the Professional Educators of Tennessee and the Tennessee Education Association.

Task force members are (with an asterisk denoting new members):

  • Candice McQueen, Tennessee commissioner of education
  • Sara Heyburn, executive director, State Board of Education
  • Dolores Gresham, chairman, Senate Education Committee
  • John Forgety, chairman, House Education Instruction and Programs Committee
  • Harry Brooks, chairman, House Education Administration and Planning Committee
  • Wanda Shelton, assistant director, Tennessee Organization of School Superintendents
  • Mike Winstead, director, Maryville City Schools
  • Randy Frazier, director, Weakley County Schools*
  • B.J. Worthington, director, Clarksville-Montgomery County Schools*
  • Nancy Ash, assistant director, Lebanon Special Schools
  • Beth Unfried, director of elementary schools, Clarksville-Montgomery County Schools
  • Bill White, assessment director, Shelby County Schools*
  • Bill Harlin, principal, Nolensville High School, Williamson County Schools
  • Joann Young, literacy coach, College Grove Elementary, Williamson County Schools*
  • Tina Childers, teacher, Hixson Middle School, Hamilton County Schools*
  • Philip Eller, teacher, Cedar Grove Elementary, Rutherford County Schools
  • Rebecca McBride, teacher, Brighton High School, Tipton County Schools
  • Valerie Love, teacher, Dobyns-Bennett High School, Kingsport City Schools
  • Debbie Shedden, president-elect, Tennessee School Boards Association, Hawkins County Board Member
  • Jasmine Carlisle, student, Mt. Juliet High, Wilson County Schools
  • Virginia Babb, parent, Knox County Parent-Teacher Association