Nine Hamilton County public schools affected by TNReady testing problems

Nine Hamilton County public schools affected by TNReady testing problems

April 16th, 2018 by Meghan Mangrum in Breaking News

This story was updated April 16, 2018, at 11:26 p.m. with more information.

School districts across Tennessee, including Hamilton County, reported difficulties logging in to the TNReady online platform for testing Monday.

Nine Hamilton County Schools high schools reported intermittent login issues between 9:30 and 10:30 a.m., said Nakia Towns Edwards, the district's new chief of staff.

Towns Edwards was hired by Superintendent Bryan Johnson after spending a number of years overseeing testing at the state level.

State Education Commissioner Candice McQueen notified school directors around 10:30 a.m. that testing had resumed after working with Questar, the state's vendor, to address the issue.

"This issue has been resolved, and more than 20,000 students have now successfully completed TNReady exams as of this point today, with testing resuming across the state," a spokesperson for the state Department of Education said in an email. "No server has crashed, and this issue was not due to volume."

House Government Operations Chairman Jeremy Faison, R-Cosby, told The Tennessean he will request — if the committee meets Tuesday — that McQueen or an education department representative appear before the group.

"It's on the commissioner's shoulders at this point. And we're tired of it," said Rep. Ron Lollar, R-Bartlett, during the committee's Monday meeting.

Testing historically has been a problem for the state. Last year, state officials announced nearly 10,000 assessments were scored incorrectly by Questar. School officials said three Hamilton County schools were affected — Red Bank High School, Lookout Valley Middle/High and Ivy Academy.

In 2016, Tennessee terminated its contract with Measurement Inc. after the North Carolina company's online platform failed in a number of districts. After the failure, Education Commissioner Candice McQueen directed districts to stop testing.

The state then was forced to suspend testing for grades 3 through 8 after the company was unable to get backup paper tests to a number of schools.

McQueen met with a 30-member task force for a third time last fall to look at ways to improve overall assessment testing.

At many of the nine Hamilton County schools on Monday, students were sent back to class while awaiting a resolution. However, some high school students started testing around 7:30 a.m. and were able to complete their assessments before encountering an issue.

Some testing is still done on paper, and those students were not affected by technical issues.

"The issue earlier today was not related to either volume of student testers or a server issue. It was also not a problem with the test delivery system — Nextera — any network or broadband performance, nor any district action. It was not a crash," McQueen said in an email to school directors.

"Our understanding from Questar is the issue was related to a conflict between the Classroom Assessment Builder (CAB) and the test delivery system, which previously shared the same log-in system. This conflict immediately caused unacceptable log-in delays for some students. That issue has been resolved, and we feel good going into testing tomorrow," she added.

More than 25,000 students completed testing successfully Monday, according to state education officials. The state had planned for potential problems, a spokesperson said.

School districts have some discretion when scheduling testing during the three-week window in the spring. This week, districts are expected to have completed U.S. History assessments and one part of the English language arts test.

Contact staff writer Meghan Mangrum at mmangrum@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6592. Follow her on Twitter @memangrum.


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