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Schools’ Report Card Flawed in the Wake of TNReady Failures

Posted on Thursday, December 13, 2018 at 3:42 pm

A new state report lists Grundy County schools as behind the state average in overall academic success, but scores may not be the best indicator of success because of flawed testing.
The Tennessee Department of Education released its annual “state report card,” which lists how well students across the state are performing, last week. The annual report is compiled using data from the statewide student assessments, known as TNReady, which tests students’ academic readiness in several core subjects such as English language arts, science, history and mathematics.
According to the report, the statewide average of students who “scored on track or mastered” on the previous year’s TNReady exams is just barely under 40 percent. Only 39.1 percent of students scored in the “on track” or “mastered” level of proficiency, according to the report.
By comparison, only 24.6 percent of Grundy County students were scored in the top two levels of proficiency, per the report.
However, school officials across the state say the report card shouldn’t be used as the ultimate determination of student success due to numerous failures of the exams themselves over the years.
The state report card is only based on the TNReady exams, which experienced massive failures over the last several years, meaning the data being used in the report is flawed.
Both Carver and Director of Curriculum Susan Fanning said that using these flawed years of data to score the level of proficiency of Tennessee students is unfair to students.
That analysis showed one student in particular was scored as “non-proficient” in the TNReady exams, Carver said.
Even though the tests were flawed and the data gleaned from them was an inaccurate picture of student success, districts can use the data and follow all the guidelines set forth by the state department of education to prepare the children for the future.
An additional problem with the state report card is the time between assessments and results. The state report card is based on the test results from the previous school year, meaning the data in the report concerns at least one group of students who are no longer in high school.
The report card does show large discrepancies at some local schools and the data from the report card may show schools that are underperforming in Grundy County.
Are students going to school?
Chronic absenteeism is included on the state report card and results are not considered flawed as they are not based on state testing results. The chronically out of school indicator measures school, district, and state chronic absenteeism. A student is considered chronically out of school if he or she misses 10 percent or more of school days for any reason. A school, district, or the state can perform well on this indicator if the school, district, or state has a low chronic absenteeism rate or significantly reduces its chronic absenteeism rate.
The state average for chronic absenteeism is 13.3 percent. Grundy County schools average well below that number at 8.9 percent.
Absenteeism by school
Coalmont Elementary School – 6.5 percent; North Elementary School – 8.6 percent; Palmer Elementary School – 3.3 percent; Pelham Elementary School – 2.6 percent; Swiss Memorial Elementary School -5.9 percent; Tracy City Elementary School – 11.8 percent; and Grundy County High School – 11.5 percent.
The entire report card can be found at https://reportcard.tnk12.gov/.