There have been important changes to Tennessee’s elementary and secondary assessments, TNReady, in the last year due in part to feedback received during a statewide listening tour in the fall of 2018.

Governor Bill Haslam convened an educator advisory team to guide the six feedback sessions on the listening tour. The team was led by Wayne Miller, a former long-time educator and former executive director of the Tennessee Organization of School Superintendents. Also serving on the advisory team were Cicely Woodard, the 2018 Tennessee Teacher of the Year; Dr. Derek Voiles, the 2017 Tennessee Teacher of the Year; and Dr. Mike Winstead, the 2018 Tennessee Superintendent of the Year.

The advisory team submitted a feedback report at the conclusion of the listening tour with crucial steps for the state to take to improve the assessment administration. Wayne Miller describes some of the changes that have been implemented ahead of this year’s administration window.

There have been many improvements to TNReady assessment administration this year. What are some of those changes

A key change for testing coordinators this year is that logistical aspects are much improved. The materials packaging and labeling is more user-friendly for district and building test coordinators. Print assessments and ancillary materials arrived at schools three weeks ahead of the testing window. The documentation for building test coordinators was released weeks earlier than last year, again, improving their ability to organize and coordinate ahead of schedule.

Importantly, communication and improvements around good, timely communication is a priority for the Tennessee Department of Education during this assessment window. Also, video training modules for test administrators occurred in a timely manner and were thorough.

What are three things that Tennessee educators should know ahead of the TNReady testing window?

  1. This year, teachers should be familiar with the subject blueprints and assessment fact sheets found on Livebinder. The wealth of information and resources is vast and provides a comprehensive place to go for information ahead of the assessment window.
  2. Educators that assist with or have access to test materials will be required to sign several documents, such as security and ethics documents, this year. Also, educators should review the communications plan outlined by the Tennessee Department of Education ahead of the assessment window for guidance on the streamlined process for getting your questions answered timely and efficiently.
  3. The SIS data is critical to the success of all provisioning in Nextera. The claiming process for students in the system is continual and requires close attention to detail as students move through the system. Pre-id for printed documents and assurance of proper score reporting contributes to efficient claiming. Should students arrive or leave after the final data extract, proper handling is especially important.

What are some of the greatest strengths of the TNReady assessment?

This state assessment is one of several tools that provides important feedback about students’ academic progress. Because it is aligned to the Tennessee Academic Standards, the assessment also provides critical data for educators and school leadership to ensure on-grade level aligned instruction in all classrooms. It is a true measure of what our students are learning in the classroom.

This assessment process also functions in much the same way as other early postsecondary opportunities for students by providing them with experience that has become routine for advancement in both academic and professional pursuits.

What data will this assessment provide that will not only help educators but also parents and families?

Most importantly, students and families receive specific information about which skills and concepts the student has demonstrated mastery, as well as the areas where the student needs to improve. The parent reports are user-friendly and easy to interpret. Students and families also receive information that shows how that individual student is performing compared to his/her peers at the school, district, and state levels.

To learn more about the state assessment or access resources, please visit the Tennessee Department of Education’s  website.