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Tennessee students get mixed testing results; Johnson City students fare well

Brandon Paykamian • Jul 19, 2018 at 8:26 PM

Tennessee Education Commissioner Candice McQueen held a press conference call Thursday afternoon to go over the 2018 TNReady results and district-level results for the end-of-course exams for grades 3-8.

While the commissioner said the results vary statewide, she cited encouraging trends, including strong growth in English language arts for elementary grades and overall improvement in high school math.

“We see reason to be encouraged, but we also have a lot of work to do to meet our higher expectations for all students,” McQueen said. “While we’ve focused extensively on early grades’ reading and are starting to see a shift in the right direction, we know middle school remains a statewide challenge across the board.

“TNReady serves as a vital feedback loop for teachers, parents and administrators to tell us where we are, and the results inform what steps we need to take to help all students and schools succeed,” she continued.

Both Washington County and Johnson City students in grades 3 through 5 declined in percentage with a mastery of science, but Johnson City Schools was one of five districts that showed some of the highest improvements with high school math.

"We are extremely proud of our students as well as our amazing teachers who work diligently for the students they serve. We have begun the process of digging deeper into our TNReady data, as we do each year. Our goal is to continue to improve scores and provide students, teachers and administrators with the best tools possible,” Johnson City Schools Superintendent Steve Barnett said of the results.

The state overall struggled in a few key areas, mainly the progress of middle and high school students in ELA, math and science.

“We’re not overly excited about some of the results, but we were encouraged by some, particularly the growth in grades 3-8 ELA,” McQueen said of the results.

McQueen also added that the majority of the 650,000 students who took TNReady this year did so on paper, while about 300,000 took the test online. Given the technological problems with the online testing last season, a third-party expert, HumRRO, was hired to do an analysis of the results to see if and/or how the disruptions impacted the scores. They said they found minimal impact on the overall scores, and the state will ensure no adverse action is taken against any student, teacher, school or district based on the 2017-18 data.

Looking forward, McQueen said upcoming changes in science standards could present challenges in future state and district test results. McQueen also once again reiterated that a new test vendor could be selected by the fall to replace current vendor Questar.

“We will hopefully have a new vendor for the 2019-20 school year beginning this spring,” McQueen said.

The state test results were as follows:

In 2018, for elementary school (grades 3-5) TNReady exams:

– 35.7 percent of students were on track or mastered in ELA, up from 33.9 percent in 2017.

– 40 percent of students were on track or mastered in math, same as 2017.

– 56 percent of students were on track or mastered in science, down from 58.6 percent in 2017.

For middle school (grades 6-8) TNReady exams:

– 32.1 percent of students were on track or mastered in ELA, down from 33.5 percent in 2017.

– 34.6 percent of students were on track or mastered in math, down from 35.7 percent in 2017.

– 60.2 percent of students were on track or mastered in science, down from 62.2 percent in 2017.

For high school end-of-course exams:

– 29.4 percent of students were on track or mastered in ELA, down from 34.6 percent in 2017.

– 22.5 percent of students were on track or mastered in math, up from 21.5 percent in 2017.

– 45.3 percent of students were on track or mastered in science, down from 51 percent in 2017

– 27.8 percent of students were on track or mastered in U.S. history, down from 30.8 percent in 2017

Here were some of the findings for Johnson City Schools, based on district results:

– In grades 3-12, Johnson City Schools ranked in the top 10 statewide in eight of nine assessed content categories.

– In grades 9-12 mathematics, Johnson City Schools ranked first in the state.

– In grades 9-12 English/language arts, Johnson City Schools ranked 3rd in the state.

– In grades 9-12 science, Johnson City Schools ranked third in the state.

– In U.S. History, Johnson City Schools ranked sixth in the state.

– The percent of Black, Hispanic, and Native-American students who scored on track or mastered in English/language arts increased from 25 percent in 2016 to 34 percent in 2018.

– The percent of Black, Hispanic, and Native-American students who scored on track or mastered in mathematics increased from 36 percent in 2016 to 40 percent in 2018.

– The percent of students with disabilities in grades 9-12 who scored on track or mastered improved from 9 percent in 2016 to 13 percent in 2018.

For more information on the results across the state and other information about TNReady testing, visit www.tn.gov/education.

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