Some notes on the ongoing saga that is the failed TNReady test in Tennessee:
This year, we were all set to go with online testing again - until we weren't. There was alleged hacking. There was a dump truck that supposedly ran over a key internet fiber line. Both of those turned out to be deliberately misleading. There were days when students started and couldn't complete the test. There were students given the wrong test.
The legislature responded by passing a law saying “no adverse action” could be taken against schools, teachers, and schools as a result of the failed tests.
However, it seems the adverse action is actually the testing regime itself. Tennessee students spend hours taking state-mandated tests. Those hours span a period of weeks and mean huge chunks of lost instructional time.
When a test fails over and over again, students stop taking it seriously. When the data is either not returned on time or is the result of a badly botched test administration, teachers are not well-served. Further, parents can't trust the results sent home -- which undermines the entire process.
State testing should ultimately benefit students. It should provide timely, relevant feedback that teachers and parents can use to help improve the education children receive.