Shelby County Schools urging state to end TNReady testing

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — The Shelby County Board of Education is ready to get rid of TNReady tests and will ask lawmakers to do so when the General Assembly meets next year.

In its 2019 legislative agenda, SCS urges the Tennessee Department of Education to eliminate TNReady.

Keith Williams with the Memphis Shelby County Education Association, which represents teachers, also said he'd like to see the standardized test go.

"You can't assess something that you do not teach and TNReady does not cover everything that is taught or not taught in the classroom," he said.

Contents aside, there have been many problems implementing online versions of the test in recent years.

Students statewide had trouble logging onto the system this past spring. The issue caused delays.

"The state has never been ready technologically to do it," Williams said.

The Shelby County School Board wants a more effective test to take TNReady's place.

Williams wants the state to design the test instead of using a third-party vendor like it does now.

"Why don't you give a pre-test to determine what needs to be taught, teach it and then retest it?" he said.

The stakes couldn't be higher. TNReady scores can determine things like graduations, teacher evaluations, and therefore, teacher pay.

"Our use of TNReady has been a misuse of a test," Williams said.

The state continues to back TNReady, saying "Tennessee's assessment has received high marks from independent analyses in terms of its quality and rigor. And while we completely agree we must improve administration, it is the right program to have in place."

Some sort of standardized test is required by state and federal law.

Shelby County is the largest school district in the state. The school board hopes that kind of weight will influence lawmakers to see it their way.