Haslam: TNReady flap overblown; McQueen tells legislators latest problem fixed

Gov. Bill Haslam said Tuesday that controversy over TNReady testing of students is overblown while  Education Commissioner Candice McQueen and a vendor sought to reassure state legislators that the latest problem has been fixed and won’t happen again, reports the Times Free Press. The most recent troubles involved reporting the wrong scores for 9,400 students statewide.

“While we reported 99 percent of our scoring accurately, that’s not good enough,” McQueen told a joint meeting of the House Education Instruction & Programs and Education Administration & Planning committees. “We expect — we required — 100 percent, and that’s our commitment.”

Stephen Lazer, president and CEO of Questar, the testing vendor, said while checks were done, “they didn’t catch these mistakes. We know how to do it and we will. Obviously, we fixed everything and are in the process of fixing every other report at our own expense.”

… Earlier in the day, Republican Gov. Bill Haslam downplayed the incident, saying “one error is too many, but it is important to remember this is 9,400 tests out of a million something. And it worked. Before anybody’s results were impacted or any student got their results, it was caught.”

According to testimony, the mistake was discovered only when educators in one school system sought to get to the bottom of why a high-performing student did poorly on an end-of-course assessment.

While relatively minor, the gaffe has assumed far wider importance in lawmakers’ minds due to various problems in 2015 and 2016 on TNReady tests.

Last year, for example, students’ ability to take the tests online melted down, and efforts to provide backup exams floundered. That prompted McQueen to boot the original vendor and bring aboard Questar.

Minority Democrats last week demanded the state impose a three-year moratorium on the state using the tests to gauge student, teacher, school and school district progress. Republicans were upset, too.

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