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The glitchy rollout of TNReady to replace Tennessee's TCAP test is sparking debate and anxiety.
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Rachel Carroll, left, and Kristen Adams load boxes of test materials to take into Normal Park Upper School Thursday, March 10, 2016.

The state's standardized testing results highlight that Hamilton County high school students improved in literacy last school year, but struggled to make progress in math and science.

Hamilton County high school students earned a level 5 score for English on the Tennessee Value-Added Assessment System, known as TVAAS. Academic growth is measured by TVAAS on a scale of 1 to 5, and a score of 5 means students exceeded expected growth. 

Shelby County Schools and Metro Nashville Public Schools also earned a level 5 for literacy.

In math, students here received a level 1 TVAAS score. Shelby County and Metro Nashville students also earned a 1, and Knox students posted a score of 5.

Overall, Hamilton County high school students earned a level 2 TVAAS score for growth, meaning that students made less than expected growth during the 2015-2016 school year. But this score is an improvement from the 2014-2015 school year when the district received a 1, the lowest possible TVAAS score.

"While we would love to have 5s in all areas, our emphasis on literacy shows we can make positive gains," said Hamilton County Schools Interim Superintendent Kirk Kelly in a statement. "Now we need to put the same emphasis on mathematics and science."

The Tennessee Department of Education publicly released last school year's TNReady results today for individual high schools and districts. TNReady replaces Tennessee Comprehensive Assessment Program -- known as TCAP -- and is a more rigorous assessment that evaluates students' critical thinking and comprehension.

TNReady sets higher expectations for students and its proficiency results cannot be compared to previous years of TCAP data, and this first batch of TNReady scores is being used to form a new baseline for the state moving forward.

For months, the state has warned that TNReady proficiency scores will fall from previous years, but say they are now more aligned with national grading standards.  These new results are also more on-track with the ACT national college readiness assessment. 

ACT results released earlier this year show that 16 percent of Hamilton County graduates are college-ready, according to state and district data.

The TNReady report also has new descriptors for student performance -- mastered, on track, approaching or below -- indicating if a student has the expected understanding and skills expected of students in that grade or course.

In Hamilton County 27.3 percent of high school students scored on-track or mastered in English; 15.4 percent in math; 42.7 percent in science and 21.9 percent in history. 

Due to the testing debacle last school year in Tennessee and the eventual cancelation of TNReady testing for grades 3-8, reports for students in these grades will not be available until next fall. 

The new TNReady assessment was administered for high school math, English and history. Science scores, however, are measurable to TCAP, as the state hasn't transitioned to the TNReady test. 

TNReady results are also easier for parents, teachers and students to understand and provide more detailed information about individual student achievement and growth

See tomorrow's Times Free Press for the full story.

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