State education officials say they take responsibility for a series of computer glitches caused by a vendor that forced students to stop using a new online assessment test known as TNReady.
“When you talk about a vendor, you talk about the state,” State Education Commissioner Candice McQueen told reporters at a news conference Tuesday.
McQueen has ordered that students take the test using pencil and paper because she no longer has confidence in vendor Measurement Inc.’s ability to administer the tests online without the system crashing.
This came a day after the rollout proved disastrous, as students across the state weren’t able to take the TNReady because of a widespread computer networking failure, which state officials described as not being able to access the Internet.
It’s not clear how many school systems were affected.
The vendor, North Carolina-based Measurement Inc., did not return calls seeking comment. The state awarded the company with a contract of more than $107 million for work from 2015 to 2020.
McQueen said that, so far, the state has paid the company only $1.6 million and will not pay any extra money as a result of the online failures.
The company developed TNReady, which evaluates math and English skills for grades 3-11. It replaces the Tennessee Comprehensive Assessment Program, known as TCAP. McQueen and others say the new test does a better job of assessing critical-thinking skills.
School officials say the delays have been frustrating. Questions also remain about how teachers will be evaluated. State law says school districts can evaluate teachers based on 10 percent of the TNReady scores and the weight of the test will gradually increase each year in decisions about teacher pay, firing and placement.
“Any time there’s a glitch in test administration – because there’s such high stakes – that’s worrisome,” said Wayne Miller, executive director of the Tennessee Organization of School Superintendents. State law gives local districts discretion on how they want to interpret the TNReady scores.