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VOL. 42 | NO. 42 | Friday, October 19, 2018

Haslam unveils upgrades to student assessments

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NASHVILLE (AP) — Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam on Wednesday unveiled new changes to improve the state's problem-plagued elementary and secondary school online testing process.

Haslam says TNReady will now produce faster test results, provide teachers with more resources to prepare their students for the test and offer schools more affordable technology devices.

"These are real solutions, some of which are already underway or will be implemented later this year, that will be felt by educators, students and parents across the state," Haslam

The changes come at a time when Haslam is preparing to leave office at the end of the year and hand off the troubled test administration to a new governor. Both Democrat Karl Dean and Republican Bill Lee are vying for the office and have previously said they support a total reset of the system but have not offered details on what exactly that would like.

However, Haslam says the TNReady tests will be administered in the spring of 2019 regardless of who wins in November and urged both candidates to consider teacher feedback he's collected in favor of the system.

Furthermore, the state hopes to contract with a new vendor by the spring for the 2019-2020 school year by currently preparing to start the contracting process over the next few weeks.

"We understand the state has to get this right," Haslam said. "We have to have a platform that delivers."

In 2016, the state canceled its five-year $108 million contract with a testing company because of repeated failures, including the inability of students to get online to take the tests and later with problems getting paper assessments shipped to schools on time.

Last year, state officials announced that nearly 10,000 of the tests were scored incorrectly. This year, lawmakers scrambled during the final days of the legislative session to pass last-minute legislation ensuring no students, teachers or schools suffered as a result of repeated failures with the state assessment test.

That's because state law says teachers must be evaluated partly based on the tests, as well as students and schools.

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