Haslam announces listening tour on student testing

Gov. Bill Haslam speaks at the state Capitol in Nashville on Aug. 21, 2018. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

A release from Gov. Bill Haslam’s office:

NASHVILLE – Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam today announced a multi-phase plan, highlighted by a statewide listening tour, to improve delivery of the state’s elementary and secondary assessments known as TNReady. The goals of the engagement plan and tour are to:

1 Engage in an open conversation about assessment and ways to improve administration;

2 Gather feedback that can inform a smooth delivery of state assessments this school year and beyond, including feedback on the selection of the state’s next assessment partner to be chosen later this school year; 

3 Discuss how to better provide schools, educators, parents and students with meaningful and timely results from assessments; and

4 Distinguish assessment content from delivery in an effort to focus on the value assessments can provide.

“Tennessee’s unprecedented improvement in education is the result of high academic standards and an assessment that measures knowledge of those standards,” Haslam said. “Without aligned assessments, we don’t know where our students stand and where we need to improve. We finally have a test that is aligned to Tennessee’s strong academic standards, and I don’t want recent assessment delivery issues to cause us to lose sight of why we have these tests in the first place. Delivering the test without disruption is essential and we must get it right. I am confident this listening tour and process will inform the critical work ahead of us.”                

The listening tour will consist of six stops throughout the state and provide an opportunity for educators, school technology and assessment coordinators, and school district administrators to share information about recent challenges related to the online delivery of state assessments. Each meeting will encourage feedback on how the state can continue to improve its assessment; a discussion of steps made to-date to improve test administration in 2018-19; and a conversation on ways to improve test delivery through the oversight and selection of the state’s next assessment partner, which will occur later this school year. Haslam and Tennessee Department of Education Commissioner Candice McQueen will attend each leg of the tour.

Haslam has tapped former long-time educator, and former executive director of the Tennessee Organization of School Superintendents, Wayne Miller to facilitate the listening tour meetings and outcomes. 

“As someone who has spent his entire career in public education, I know when difficult issues arise it often takes more listening than talking to resolve them and move forward in partnership and collaboration,” Miller said. “I am excited about the process the governor has put forward and honored to facilitate conversations with educators throughout the state. We are all in this together.” 

To assist with the listening tour, Haslam has convened an educator advisory team to guide the feedback sessions with Miller. Advisory team members will participate in each meeting, gather information and feedback and develop a set of principles and recommendations for consideration by the governor as well as the next administration. The three-member advisory team includes:

• Cicely Woodard, the 2018 Tennessee Teacher of the Year and a math teacher at Freedom Middle School in Franklin Special School District;

• Derek Voiles, the 2017 Teacher of the Year and an English as a Second Language (ESL) teacher at Lincoln Heights Middle School in Hamblen County School District; and

• Dr. Mike Winstead, the current Tennessee Superintendent of the Year and Maryville City Director of Schools.

“Tennessee educators are committed to improving educational outcomes for our students, and assessments are an important and necessary component for us to meet that commitment,” Woodard said. “I am appreciative of the governor’s recognition of the need to continue to get feedback, and I look forward to working with the governor and educators to improve assessment delivery.”

The listening tour will begin Friday, Aug. 24, in Knoxville and be followed by stops planned for Hamilton County, Shelby County, Williamson County, Greene County and Gibson County. Specific locations and times are being finalized.

Following the listening tour, the next phases of the process will include implementing feedback from the listening tour, refining the requirements of the state’s next assessment partner, providing on-the-ground oversight of the fall test administration, and developing opportunities for feedback from educators and stakeholders.

11 Responses to Haslam announces listening tour on student testing

  • Phil Lassiter says:


  • James White says:

    Yep, the first thing needed to fix TN Education is to NOT take any FEDERAL money. With Federal Money always comes Federal Control.

  • Petepall says:

    Thanks, Phil. For adding substantively to the conversation.

  • Linda Caldwell says:

    I hope the conversation will go even deeper. A few good teachers should be added to the list of who to talk with.

  • William Upton says:

    Kind of late for him to start listening. Testing in TN is a joke.

    • Karen Bracken says:

      Education in TN is a joke and he is liar when he says we have advanced. Just the opposite has happened all over the country since they BRIBED the states into accepting Common Core standards.

  • Sandi Wells says:

    Will scheduled dates for visiting the counties be provided in later communications?

  • Silence Dogood says:

    Lame duck good bye tour paid for by the taxpayers of this state. Stay home, Governor. Quit burning fuel, quit creating potholes with ten car caravans, quit creating overtime for the THP, quit polluting the atmosphere with gas fumes and speeches, and quit tying up traffic while doing all the other stuff. Stroke your ego with a GO-TO meeting forum.

  • The number one problem with our public education system is the missing American history and civics lessons that would inform our youth that fed ed is just as unconstitutional as fed med. A thorough understanding of, and fidelity to, our founders’ intent (enumerated powers) would solve many of our current problems.

  • Karen Bracken says:

    Tennessee education improvement is a farce and he is flat out liar. Twisting the data and the truth. Since they implemented Common Core (and TN still has Common Core…..but McQueen and Haslam keep lying to people about it) TN has shown little to no improvement. They have to spin the lies and rhetoric in order to keep getting the federal money. Education is in the crapper here in TN and all over America but like they say: “tell a lie often enough the people believe it is the truth”. If he were really serious about fixing education he would start by abandoning Tennessee’s ESSA plan and tell DC to take a hike. Common Core was codified into federal law under ESSA and if they tell you any differently they are lying. ESSA was a big fat mental health bill and every child will end up with some form of classification and IEP. Not to benefit the child but to collect more and more data from within the school on how EVERY child thinks and believes and then they create a personalized program to change their way of thinking to conform with the agenda.

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