TNReady still not ready after materials fail to arrive in time for scheduled tests

A student fills in his answer to the practice test question for a standardized test, in Roswell, Georgia. (Anitta C. Charlson/Atlanta Journal-Constitution/MCT)

TNReady, the latest statewide standardized test, still isn't ready.

The new, two-part test was supposed to be administered online, but glitches emerged in the online testing platform in February, forcing the state back to pen and paper.

Printed test materials were supposed to be delivered by the end of February so students across the district could start the first round of TNReady tests Wednesday and be finished March 15.

On Friday though, Hamilton County Schools officials announced yet another snag in the TNReady rollout.

"The Tennessee Department of Education has informed us that our testing material will not arrive this week. Therefore, we will have to change our testing dates," Kirk Kelly, assistant superintendent for testing accountability for Hamilton County Schools, wrote in an email.

Students in grades 3-8 will begin Part I testing on English, mathematics and social studies starting March 14-17, according to Kelly's email. The same dates apply for students in yearlong courses, such as Algebra I.

Part II testing will be based on the Department of Education's ability to ship the materials, said Kelly, adding that "at this time our best recommendation for Part II, for all schools, is to keep open the dates of April 25, 2016, to May 6, 2016."

Block-schedule high school courses need to be flexible from April 18-29 for Part I testing.

Kelly did not say why there was a delay and could not be reached for comment Friday.

Included in his email, though, was a note to school directors: "126 districts have received their materials and about 60 have completed their assessment. The remaining 18 districts will be shipped between tomorrow and March 8."

For some principals - many of whom expressed frustrations with TNReady to Tennessee Education Commissioner Candice McQueen when she visited Hamilton County in February - Friday's news came as another setback.

"What we've experienced this year has been a total disregard for student learning time," said Jill Levine, principal of Normal Park Museum Magnet School. "And at this point, the state really should suspend all of Part I testing in order to give back instructional time and learning opportunities to our students."

"My first concern was our schedules," said Tom Arnold, principal of Ooltewah Elementary School. "This will be the third time we have to reschedule our testing schedule. The schedule we had for next week we're having to redo. And then, the next schedule they just gave us [Friday], we're having to cancel or reschedule some field trips we planned."

Arnold, also president of the Hamilton County Principals Association, said delaying Part I testing gives educators less time to prepare students for Part II testing at the end of the year.

"We're going to have 19 instructional days before we have to start testing again once we finish the new schedule," Arnold said.

Justin Robertson, principal of Red Bank High School, said the latest delay, though not earth-shattering, will make for a busier week of testing.

"It's obviously going to take rescheduling. It's going to take some more man-hours, which is one of the things that I think is the most frustrating," Robertson said.

"We've had a plan in place since August making sure we were ready and prepared. And then it got changed to pencil and paper and we had to revisit that plan. And that's the most frustrating part: the amount of time it takes to schedule it, and having to go back to teachers and having to say, 'We're moving to Plan B and Plan C.'"

As far as events that might be rescheduled, he said Red Bank has two field trips planned in late April.

"Obviously," Robertson said, "if it impacts those, that would be frustrating."

Contact staff writer Zack Peterson at or 423-757-6347 with story ideas or tips. Follow @zackpeterson918.