Johnson City Schools to offer an alternative to TNReady

Sue Guinn Legg • May 7, 2018 at 10:44 PM

The Johnson City Board of Education on Monday decided that the best way to send Nashville a message that the ongoing failure of the TNReady student and teacher assessment system must be corrected is to offer the state an alternative testing plan.

During a discussion of what would have been the school system’s third annual resolution spelling out its vote of no confidence in TNReady, board member Kathy Hall said she would like to see Johnson City Schools come up with its own “ideal” student assessments and share that plan with the state Department of Education and other East Tennessee school systems.

As the board members continued to debate what language to include in the no-confidence resolution and whether to extend the no-confidence vote to the state Education Department and Tennessee Education Commissioner Candice McQueen, Hall’s suggestion took root.

Board Chairman Tim Belisle favored including McQueen in the no-confidence vote in order to hold her accountable for the TNReady failures.

Board member Richard Manahan said he could not vote for singling out McQueen when others were also responsible and suggested the board instead extend the no-confidence vote to the department and also include a demand that the testing issues be resolved before the next school year.

Board member Tom Hager, who earlier in the meeting was recognized for being named Tennessee School Board Member of the Year, noted that McQueen has already indicated she will not resign over the ongoing TNReady issues.

Without the alternative plan Hall suggested, Hager said he did not believe a no-confidence resolution from Johnson City would be of much effect.

Superintendent of Schools Steven Barnett said Johnson City may be in a better position to have its voice heard in Nashville because the school system and its teachers had done everything the state requested during this year’s problematic TNReady testing period and had persevered to complete the tests when many school systems across the state dropped out.

Supervisor of Testing Roger Walk described the school system’s experience as a comedy of errors with many disruptions during the testing and, in the end, a great loss of instruction time over the course of the school year.

Barnett said the state has already given school systems the option of not counting the scores against students and teachers. And on his recommendation, the board voted to allow the school system to count only the scores that helped students’ end of year scores and to not count those that did not.

Saying he wanted the school board to be unanimous in whatever no-confidence message its sends the state on TNReady, Belisle suggested, and Manahan agreed, withdrawing all motions on the vote of no confidence until next month to allow Barnett, Walk and the school system staff time to draft what they believe would be the ideal system for statewide student and teacher assessments.

Email Sue Guinn Legg at [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter @sueleggjcpress. Like her on Facebook at facebook.com/sueleggjcpress.

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