What The New TNReady Scores For Grades 3-8 Mean For Students

So often in my career as an educator, I have benefited from getting another perspective. Whether it was feedback about how to improve instruction from a principal or another colleague, a parent’s insight about the needs of their child, or an opportunity to collaborate with another director of schools, I always found the additional information helpful in developing new approaches that would help students improve.

Tennessee is getting a fresh perspective of how well students in grades 3-8 are meeting our higher expectations with the first TNReady assessment results for these younger students. With TNReady, Tennessee is resetting how we measure whether a student is on track and on grade level in English language arts and math, and the test is more challenging in a couple of ways. Some questions do not offer a list of answers to choose from, and some problems must be solved without a calculator.

Because this is a reset moment, the TNReady scores look different. This year’s scores cannot be compared to previous results from the old Tennessee Comprehensive Assessment Program (TCAP), and it would not be fair to students or teachers to try to do that. Because students are adjusting to a new test, it is not surprising or alarming that many of them are in the “approaching grade level” range this year.

Teachers have worked with the Tennessee Department of Education to develop a TNReady scoring system that reflects the knowledge and skills a student needs to be on grade level and progressing toward graduating truly prepared for a wide range of postsecondary options. Thanks to that work, the first TNReady scores are in line with results from the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP).

For example, TNReady results show that just under 34 percent of students in grades 3-8 are on track or have mastered English language arts, and NAEP results from 2015 showed that 33 percent of fourth- and eighth-graders in Tennessee were proficient or above on reading. NAEP, also known as the Nation’s Report Card, is considered the gold standard for measuring student achievement, so educators and parents can have confidence that TNReady is providing a high-quality measurement each year for each student in grades 3-11.

With their first TNReady results, our students in grades 3-8 have set a new base for future growth. Historically, Tennessee students have shown us they rise to the challenge when our expectations are high, just as our teachers have shown us that they can and do make the changes in instructional strategies to ensure our students’ success. Tennessee went through a similar reset on assessment scores with TCAP in 2011, and it was followed by a growth spurt in student achievement never before seen in our state. Since 2013, Tennessee has led the nation in academic growth on NAEP. Why has that happened? One important reason is that our teachers and students developed a growth mindset to learn more and learn more deeply each year.

TNReady results give teachers valuable information about how to structure their lessons to have students do the work that meets the expectations of the academic standards. Parents are also going to get TNReady family reports with specific advice about the next steps their children should take to continue learning at a high level this school year. Because of the fresh perspective offered by the TNReady results, we will be able to see new ways to help Tennessee students continue to grow academically.

Did you enjoy this post? Share below!
Dr. Sharon Roberts

Sharon leads SCORE’s work to cultivate and support leaders across the state who are at the forefront of implementing student-centered work in their schools and districts. Prior to joining SCORE, Sharon served as Director of the Lebanon Special School District. She began her career in education as a special education teacher in the Grainger County School System. Sharon worked for more than 21 years in the Knox County School System where she served as a special education teacher, middle school science and reading teacher, instructional coach, principal, Assistant Superintendent for Supplementary Student Services, and Assistant Superintendent for Administrative Services. She currently serves on several boards that further the cause of professional learning and advocacy for children, including the Learning Forward Foundation, Learning Forward Tennessee, and the 15th Judicial District Child Advocacy Center. Sharon is a native of Knoxville, and received her bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees from the University of Tennessee at Knoxville.

The SCORE Sheet is the online conversation on public education reform in Tennessee and is hosted by SCORE. The blog mirrors SCORE’s collaborative nature and features contributors from Tennessee and across the country including students, parents, teachers, policymakers, community groups, and members of SCORE’s team. Regardless of perspective, contributors share a common goal: that every child graduates from high school prepared for college or the workforce.

Posts on The SCORE Sheet are the opinions of the individual contributors and are not necessarily reflective of the opinions and positions of the State Collaborative on Reforming Education (SCORE).