By SARAH GRACE TAYLOR
Tennessee high school students improved in all subjects during 2016-17 school year, according to TNReady test results released Thursday.
In its second year, the statewide standards testing shows up to 3.9 percent improvements in English, math, science and U.S. history. Individual district results have not yet been released.
“This growth is encouraging, and it shows our students are capable of reaching the high bar we’ve set with our expectations in Tennessee,” Education Commissioner Candice McQueen said. “It’s also promising to see not only overall improvement, but some bright spots in the performance of historically under-served student groups. The results from TNReady shine a light on what’s working and help us to identify where we need to better support students and teachers – so every student in Tennessee reaches his or her fullest potential.”
TNReady uses four performance categories to rank students’ test scores: below, approaching, on track or mastered. Students who score on track or mastered have met or exceeded course expectations set by the state.
The chart below is based on percentages of students ranking on track or mastered in each subject during 2016-17 compared to the previous academic year.
Teresa Wasson, director of communications for the State Collaborative on Reforming Education, expressed appreciation for state educators and what these results represent in a statement Thursday.
“It’s important to know that students have made progress, but TNReady has value beyond measuring what happened last year. We’re seeing academic gains because Tennessee teachers analyzed the results from the first year of TNReady to find opportunities to change lessons for the following school year so more students could develop real understanding of the subject,” Wasson said. “Teachers want to teach, and students want to learn. The latest TNReady results will support them in doing just that in the upcoming school year.”
In the release from the state, McQueen includes plans for a transition to online assessments in the next year. After high schools in 24 districts successfully used online assessments this year, the state hopes to have all high school assessments done digitally in 2017-18, fully transitioning schools at each level by 2018-19.
“Professional Educators of Tennessee, as a key strategic partner, and in conjunction with the Tennessee Department of Education, wants to continue to push for smarter, strategic tests in moderation. The transition to online assessments will assist in that effort,” Executive Director of Professional Educators of Tennessee JC Bowman said. “In our opinion, it is better to have fewer assessments of higher quality. However, there is no denying the importance of measuring the progress of children in our schools in order to better help them learn.”
Test results have not been released to the public by district or county. When asked for about the statewide results or anticipated release date of local results, Williamson County Schools Communications Director Carol Birdsong declined to comment.