Wilson County Schools joined the rest of the state this afternoon in canceling the second part of the TNReady Assessment for grades 3-8 after the vendor failed yet again to provide paper testing materials by deadline.
Tennessee Commissioner of Education Dr. Candace McQueen made the decision to cancel the remaining tests on Wednesday, April 27, and also said the state will be immediately terminating the contract with Measurement Incorporated, the vendor who won a $108 million contract to provide testing services.
Measurement Inc. first ran into trouble earlier this year when the online testing component crashed, forcing schools to abandon the online tests in favor of paper and pencil versions. The first round of paper tests were delivered to schools late, postponing many district's testing schedules.
After the vendor failed several other deadlines in April to deliver Part II of the TNReady test, McQueen announced the cancelation of the remaining tests for 2015-2016 school year.
The decision to cancel the remaining test "supports Dr. (Donna) Wright's previous message that Wilson County Schools would not cancel, reschedule or postpone any end of the year activities scheduled for our students," Wilson County Schools said in a statement Wednesday.
"This decision does not affect middle school Algebra I nor does it affect those tests given in high school. TNReady assessments for high school and for middle school Algebra I will continue."
"TNReady was designed to provide Tennessee students, teachers and families with better information about what students know and understand," McQueen said in a statement. "The failure of this vendor has let down the teachers and students of our state.
"One hundred percent of districts are still waiting on some grade 3-8 materials to arrive, and few districts have complete sets of tests for any grade or subject. MI has provided limited and vague information about the estimated delivery times for the remaining grade 3-8 materials. In total, two million documents have not been shipped yet, and based on the quantity in MI's daily shipments, if we continued to wait, we do not believe districts would receive all of their materials until late next week.
"We believe that districts have exceeded their responsibility and obligation to wait for grade 3-8 materials. We will not ask districts to continue waiting on a vendor that has repeatedly failed us. As a result of MI's failure to deliver Part II testing materials, we are suspending Part II for grades 3-8 only. High school testing will continue as planned."
McQueen said districts that have a full materials list for a grade may continue to test if they wish.
Teacher evaluations which are based on testing data may only be used it in teacher evaluations if it helps the teacher.
"Terminating our contract with MI at this point was a challenging decision because we've been working to honor the effort and investment of Tennessee teachers and students; however, we've exhausted every option in problem solving with this vendor and to assist them in getting these tests delivered," McQueen added.
"In fact, earlier this week, we heard from MI that a shipping limit was delaying their progress, so we worked directly with FedEx to get it removed. Then, we narrowed the scope of shipping by asking MI to only prioritize the delivery of math and ELA tests. However, despite narrowing the scope, MI was still unable and unwilling to assure us that they could guarantee their deadline of April 27. And as of today, MI failed to ship all math and ELA materials to districts.
"Throughout this tumultuous relationship, extending over many months, we have consistently lost confidence in MI and are incredibly frustrated by their lack of ability to perform and communicate. "While MI has had 11 weeks to plan and prepare for the distribution of Part II, they have delayed their shipping schedule three times in April.
"We are deeply disappointed in the performance of this vendor, especially after districts, schools, and the department have provided solutions to almost every obstacle we have encountered to date. I am humbled by the leadership we have seen in classrooms, schools, and districts, and I am incredibly frustrated that our educators and students have given so much and yet our vendor has not provided
"The department is currently working with the state's Central Procurement Office to expedite the selection of a vendor for both the scoring of this year's high school assessment and the development of next year's test.
"While the transition to a new assessment this year has been incredibly challenging, we believe annual assessments are a critical measure to ensure our students are on track.
"The work that has gone into our test transition supports goals that we believe are the right ones in Tennessee: preparing our students for the modern-day demands of our colleges and employers and equipping our education system to provide more real-time feedback to students, parents, and educators about where they are on that journey. Results from annual state assessments give both teachers and parents a unique feedback loop and big-picture perspective to better understand how students are progressing and how they can support their academic development.
"This year will be the next step in an ongoing transition to ultimately make sure we do this right."