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TNReady testing issues continue to plague schools on Thursday; DOE says it's "resolved"

FOX 17 News photo

TNReady testing issues are continuing to plague schools for another day on Thursday.

Six Metro Nashville Public Schools have reported issues with saving tests on Thursday. Parents in Hendersonville also told FOX 17 News their students are still having issues with the online testing system.

"My daughter spent the morning typing an essay about being successful and then couldn’t submit it," a parent from Stewart's Creek High School said. "How about that?!?!"

The Tennessee Board of Education said there was "a brief period where some districts experienced slow down in test administration." The TNDOE said that issue has now been resolved and districts are testing now.

Former teachers and parents said they are fed up with the fourth day of reporter TNReady testing issues, which follows years of issues.

"The testing situation is an embarrassment to the state of Tennessee,” said Marilyn Hendon, a former Sumner County teacher.

Even though this year’s results will not be used to evaluate teachers and students, some parents said they are sick of sending their kids to school to face more possible testing setbacks. Hendersonville parent Andy Spears said his 6th grade daughter took a social studies test online yesterday over material that hadn’t been covered in class.

"So you can have a hard test that's difficult and ask questions about what they know," Spears said. "But it's difficult, but a really good student and someone who's been in the class where they've covered the topic all year shouldn't say I didn't know anything at all on this test. That shouldn't be happening."

Spears and another Hendersonville parent, Sibyl Reagan both run a nonprofit called Strong Schools that promotes public education in Sumner County. They said other parents in the district confirmed the same issue happened to their children.

Reagan said some teachers even sent her text messages saying some students wrote “not our standard,” and “I don’t know” on their social studies tests.

“So if they took a test over something they haven’t learned in social studies, they’re going to go into math wondering, am I going to fail this? Is this something I’ve even learned," Reagan said. "That confidence level is shot once that happens."

Emma Wright, a student at McEwen High, said the constant issues with online testing have been aggravating and students aren't able to focus.

"After trying for several years, the online testing experiment has, yet again, failed us. We have experienced several glitches distracting us from taking this test with full focus. They are making this test 15% of our grade, but we can’t focus our full attention towards the test when we experience so many problems. All across the state people have experienced complications ranging from complete system crashes to not being able to submit a test. This is very aggravating for students and teachers, and we feel we should not be held accountable for the mistakes that the state has made," Wright wrote.

Rutherford County Schools also reported issues at some schools where students were unable to submit their answers or remain logged into the online system. RCS said the district ensured the errors were not caused by their systems and its working with the TNDOE to resolve the issues.

"We did have some schools who were able to complete their subtests and submitted them successfully this afternoon using the online platform," RCS said in a statement. "We are required by the state to complete the testing cycle and so we will continue testing tomorrow. Again, we thank you for your patience during this time, and we appreciate the hard work of our students, teachers and administrators, and the support of our parents."

On Tuesday, the Tennessee Department of Education said TNReady's vendor, Questar, had a "deliberate attack" on their data center. They've asked the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation to look into the matter.

This also comes a day after lawmakers called for Tennessee's education commissioner to resign. Education Commissioner Candice McQueen offered an apology to parents and students at the meeting with state lawmakers.

Andy Spears said he wants McQueen to be held accountable.

"So you can imagine the frustration of a student, who for four days in a row has had testing problems,” Spears said. “As a parent, that's absolutely unacceptable, and there's one person who's responsible for this and it's Candice McQueen."

Former educator Marilyn Hendon said she's wanted the state to stop TNReady testing altogether for several years.

"Let teachers teach and let kiddos learn,” Hendon said. “We have great teachers, we have great students, we have great parents, and we need to have a great state."

The TNDOE said around 250,000 tests were successfully completed on Thursday, which is a new high number for the online tests in the state.

WHAT'S NEXT

Tennessee lawmakers also passed a bill on Thursday to ensure that results from this year's TNReady tests will not count.

The bill would make it so students' grades, teachers' evaluations and pay, and schools will not be impacted by this year's TNReady test scores. However, teachers can still choose to be evaluated based on this year's scores if their students do well.

The state of Tennessee is in its second year of a $60 million contract with Questar for the TNReady tests. So far, Tennessee has paid $12 million of this year's contact. The state is in the process of reviewing that contract with Questar.

The bill is expected to go to Governor Bill Haslam's desk early next week.

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