(L-R) State Senator Bill Ketron, State Representative Shane Reeves
The State Senate passed legislation Thursday, supported by Senate Republican Caucus Chairman Bill Ketron (R-Murfreesboro) and Senator Shane Reeves (R-Murfreesboro) 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 many students, teachers and parents I’ve heard from this week," said Senator Reeves. "It was important for us to pass this legislation that ensures our students’ grades and teachers’ evaluations are not negatively impacted by any system failure or cyber attack."
"We can’t tolerate this kind of repeated failure. Our teachers and students deserve better," said Senator Bill Ketron. "These kinds of issues are exactly the reason that I brought legislation, which passed earlier this year, to put a moratorium on testing. No student or teacher should be punished for cyber attacks or system failures, and I was glad to support this legislation that will make sure they are not held accountable for an issue out of their control."
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.
Both Senators said they are continuing to monitor the situation closely and are 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.