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Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam holds a a roundtable discussion with local teachers, school technology and assessment coordinators, and school district administrators Tuesday, August 28, 2018 at Soddy Daisy High School. The discussions was the second of a listening tour on the delivery of the TNReady assessment.
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Educators across Tennessee are calling for improvements to TNReady, the state's assessment test that has been fraught with problems, and to continue moving to testing on computers, according to a report released Tuesday.

The 14-page report is a summary of feedback Gov. Bill Haslam gleaned from about 150 educators that he met with at six roundtable forums during his TNReady listening tour this fall, which included a stop at Soddy-Daisy High School on Aug. 27.

Many of those forums, which consisted of superintendents, principals, testing coordinators and teachers, gave educators their first chance to voice frustrations and concerns after a spring testing window rife with problems.

"I am grateful to educators from all across the state who actively participated in these discussions and offered real solutions on how to improve the delivery of TNReady. We must get this right, and this report and recommendations will help us get there," Haslam said in a statement.

The report laid out several immediate actions educators hope to see in order to improve TNReady testing this year.

"We do not want to start over," the report said. "We need you to be consistent from year to year. Assessment is valuable, but the state has to make sure it works."

The most significant findings or challenges the report highlighted include a lack of trust in the credibility of TNReady, access to technology issues across districts, the need for timely results and the desire for greater alignment of assessment expectations with what is actually happening in the classroom.

"Let's communicate clearly about the purpose of the assessment. Parents, students, community members, and policymakers should all know that assessment aligned to the standards that we teach provides valuable information that improves instruction, helps parents know how to help their children, and gets schools the support they need," the report said.

Educators also advocated for the state to continue transitioning to computer testing, which has been hotly debated by lawmakers and educators alike, with some calling for a return to paper-and-pencil tests.

A three-person educator advisory team that Haslam also formed to evaluate TNReady gave recommendations to the state in the report. These recommendations included:

> Releasing the test administration manual to educators earlier, along with reviewing it for clarity and consistency

> Consolidating the versions and number of tests students take

> Delivering information and materials to schools earlier and improving the quality of paper test materials

> Increasing the response time and customer service of the help desk operators

> Shortening the length of time between administration of the test and providing results to schools and families

The advisory team worked with longtime educator and former executive director of the Tennessee Organization of School Superintendents Wayne Miller, who facilitated each of the roundtables, to come up with the recommendations.

Haslam and state Education Commissioner Candice McQueen have consistently emphasized they hope the feedback and recommendations gathered will help ensure a smooth transition to the next administration.

In June, McQueen announced the state would start looking for a new testing vendor for TNReady and release a request for proposals for new bids this fall.

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

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