Mastered: 5.7 percent
On track: 28.1 percent
Approaching: 44.7 percent
Below grade-level: 21.5 percent
Mastered: 8.9 percent
On track: 29.1 percent
Approaching: 36.1 percent
Below grade-level: 25.9 percent
(still uses old performance categories)
Advanced: 16.3 percent
Proficient: 42.2 percent
Below: 23.7 percent
Below basic: 17.8 percent
Exams were field tested and therefore did not generate achievement results
Less than 6 percent of Tennessee's students are mastering English, according to new state test results.
Statewide, about 28 percent of students are considered on track in English. In math, 8.9 percent have mastered the subject and 29.1 percent are on track.
After two years without standardized test results, Tennessee elementary and middle school students now have a sense of where they stand in some subjects and a baseline for future academic growth.
The Tennessee Department of Education released statewide standardized test scores for grades 3-8 Wednesday morning for the 2016-2017 school year. However, unlike high schoolers, students in these grades took the new TNReady test, which replaced the Tennessee Comprehensive Assessment Program, for the first time this spring.
"This is a key moment for our state, as we are now transitioning to the point where we have a true understanding of where students are from elementary through high school," state Education Commissioner Candice McQueen said in a statement. "We can use that information to better support their growth."
The state canceled TNReady testing for grades 3-8 during the 2015-2016 school year after it terminated its contract with Measurement Inc., the vendor that developed TNReady. The vendor failed to meet its deadline to deliver testing materials in time for students in those grades.
Then, even though students took TNReady for the first time this past school year, Hamilton County did not get the raw scores back in time to include in final report cards. Test scores were supposed to count for 10 percent of students' final grades.
Now that results are in, educators and families can determine which students need more help and which ones are ready to excel. However, only math and English were tested using TNReady. The science exam was similar to TCAP tests and uses the old performance categories.
For science, 16.3 percent are considered advanced and 42.2 are proficient. The science test will "transition to a dynamic exam that will assess the more rigorous science standards when those are implemented" next year, according to a news release from the state.
As for social studies, those exams were "field tested," and therefore did not generate achievement results.
Field tests don't count toward student grades or teacher evaluation because they're aimed toward determining which questions are being understood, in an effort to write a fair test for both teachers and students.
TNReady scores can't be compared to previous TCAP scores because of the more challenging questions TNReady has, based on a more rigorous set of expectations designed to close the gap between state and national tests. For the first time, writing was included as a component in students' English scores. Also, students were not allowed to use calculators on parts of the math assessment in order to determine the depth of their understanding.
Teresa Wasson, director of communications for the State Collaborative on Reforming Education, said TNReady can measure more than what just "what happened last year."
"Especially for teachers, it's going to identify what sort of changes in instruction they can make that can improve learning this year," she said. "A teacher can look at a test result and see patterns where students did a great job on a particular academic standard but then struggled on another one."
Wasson noted the large amount of students in the "approaching grade-level" category.
"That's an indication that there's a group of students who are just slightly below where we need them to be," she said. "But imagine how wonderful it will be when that group of students can be on grade level. They are within reach."
District- and school-level results will be released later this fall.
Contact staff writer Rosana Hughes at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6327. Follow her on Twitter @HughesRosana.