Coalition Says “No” to Assessment Pause

(State­ment Released: Aug. 8, 2018)—The Ten­nessee Edu­ca­tion­al Equi­ty Coali­tion rec­og­nizes the chal­lenges asso­ci­at­ed with the admin­is­tra­tion of TNReady are a source of con­cern, and have cre­at­ed issues of trust between the State Depart­ment of Edu­ca­tion and dis­tricts and com­mu­ni­ties. But hit­ting pause on test­ing is not the answer and sends a dan­ger­ous sig­nal that the path for­ward is unclear, that the infor­ma­tion we have will not suf­fice. Dis­trict lead­ers have a unique plat­form to craft a vision and provide sta­bil­i­ty and direc­tion. We need them at the table offer­ing solu­tions more than ever.

Ten­nessee has made pro­gress on a range of mea­sures over the last ten years, but stub­born gaps in achieve­ment and out­comes per­sist for stu­dents of col­or, and those liv­ing in pover­ty. That’s why when the Ten­nessee Edu­ca­tion­al Equi­ty Coali­tion was formed in 2016 we iden­ti­fied account­abil­i­ty, includ­ing rig­or­ous stan­dards and aligned assess­ments, as a shared pri­or­i­ty and focus of our advo­ca­cy at the state and local lev­el. Our Coali­tion believes that the path for­ward lies in main­tain­ing a focus on set­ting high expec­ta­tions, mon­i­tor­ing stu­dent and school per­for­mance, and prompt­ing deci­sive action when they fall and stay behind.

The qual­i­ty of the TNReady assess­ment, which is aligned to our state stan­dards, is not in ques­tion. Par­ents across Ten­nessee reg­u­lar­ly report sup­port for annu­al test­ing, and a plu­ral­i­ty believe that we should keep TNReady, but that it must be fixed. Addi­tion­al­ly, the major­i­ty of Tennessee’s teach­ers report­ed this spring that the state’s assess­ment is con­sis­tent with their own teach­ing goals and objec­tives, prac­tices, and school’s edu­ca­tion­al goals.

The TNReady tests in grades 3–8 in both MNPS and Shel­by Coun­ty Schools were con­duct­ed this spring with paper and pen­cil, avoid­ing the chal­lenges with online imple­men­ta­tion that some stu­dents expe­ri­enced at the high school lev­el. The­se test results provide infor­ma­tion that can and must be used to iden­ti­fy where stu­dents and schools need sup­port, which strate­gies are work­ing, and where we must align resources and inter­ven­tions.

Our state has worked hard to ensure that our stan­dards, instruc­tion­al prac­tices, and assess­ments are aligned for stu­dent suc­cess. We urge all of our edu­ca­tion lead­ers and pol­i­cy­mak­ers to press for­ward, tack­ling our test­ing chal­lenges head-on, and rebuild­ing trust by stay­ing the course and get­ting it right for every stu­dent in Ten­nessee.

Clau­dia Caballero
Exec­u­tive Direc­tor
Cen­tro His­pano de East Ten­nessee

Hank Clay
Com­mu­ni­ties in Schools of Ten­nessee

Tosha Downey
Direc­tor of Advo­ca­cy
Mem­phis Edu­ca­tion Fund

Ter­ri Free­man
Nation­al Civil Rights Muse­um

Can­dy John­son
Inde­pen­dent Con­sul­tant
C. John­son Con­sult­ing

Keny­at­ta Lovett
Exec­u­tive Direc­tor
Com­plete Ten­nessee

Mary Cypress Metz
Vice Pres­i­dent of Pro­grams
State Col­lab­o­ra­tive on Reform­ing Edu­ca­tion

Phyl­lis Nichols
Pres­i­dent and CEO
Knoxville Area Urban League

Cardell Orrin
Stand For Chil­dren

Gladys Pineda-Loher
Direc­tor of Inter­na­tion­al Com­mu­ni­ty Out­reach
Chat­tanooga State Com­mu­ni­ty Col­lege

Gini Pupo-Walk­er
Sr. Direc­tor of Edu­ca­tion Pol­i­cy & Pro­grams
Conex­ión Améri­c­as

Glo­ria Sweet-Love
State Pres­i­dent
TN State Con­fer­ence NAACP

Derek Voiles
Ten­nessee 2017 Teacher of the Year
Ham­blen Coun­ty Schools