Yager: Legislation holds Teachers, Students harmless in Assessments

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Sen. Yager supports legislation to hold teachers and students harmless in TNReady assessments

(NASHVILLE, Tenn.), April ­­­20, 2018 — The State Senate passed legislation Thursday, supported by Senator Ken Yager (R-Kingston) to hold teachers and students harmless in the TNReady testing assessments conducted for the 2017-2018 school year. The measure was adopted in an amendment and as part of a Senate/House Conference Committee Report to Senate Bill 1623.

“I share the concerns and frustrations of the students, teachers and parents I’ve heard from this week about the TNReady tests,” said Senator Yager. “That’s why we passed this important legislation to make sure students’ grades and teachers’ evaluations are not adversely affected by cyber attacks or system failures.”

Presently, state law requires the test to count within the range of 15 to 25 percent of a student’s grade. The legislation gives local boards of education the option to choose not to count the test at all, or to count it up to 15 percent of a student’s grade for this spring semester. The bill stipulates that no TNReady test scores from this school year can be used for teacher employment termination or compensation decisions.

The bill also prevents student performance and student growth data from the TNReady assessments from being used to identify a school as a priority school or to assign a school to an Achievement School District (ASD). It further provides that the assessments administered this school year cannot be used to assign a letter grade to a school.

Senator Yager said he is continuing to monitor the situation closely and is in contact with the Department of Education as an investigation has been launched into the matter.

The legislation comes after students in many Tennessee counties experienced problems with TNReady online testing this week, including a suspected cyber attack on Tuesday. Tennessee Education Commissioner Candice McQueen announced on Wednesday that she has asked the Davidson County District Attorney General to formally engage the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation and the State Office of Homeland Security in an investigation of the cyber attack. She also announced that she has engaged a third party with cyber security expertise to analyze Questar’s response to the attack.

Commissioner McQueen has stated that there continues to be no evidence that any student information or data was compromised in the incident.

Senator Yager also supported Senate Bill 1806 passed earlier this year placing a two-year moratorium on any additional statewide testing in Tennessee’s K-12 schools. This legislation prevents any additional assessments from being implemented until the current system is operating correctly. That new law became effective on April 12.

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