UPDATE: The TNReady test materials have arrived in Hamilton County schools. Testing is scheduled to begin Monday, March 14.
PREVIOUS STORY: According to Hamilton County school officials, testing materials have not yet arrived from the Tennessee Department of Education. The county's elementary and middle schools are scheduled to begin TNReady achievement tests on Monday March 14, but officials, principals and teachers are worried that they'll have to scramble to prepare for testing. A letter sent to school principals late Wednesday afternoon from the school district's accountability and testing department said:
"We hope to have materials tomorrow (Thursday) morning. As soon as the truck arrives and pallets are off, we will begin breaking down the pallets. It takes about 4 hours to unload everything and we will send emails as soon as possible.
The email (regardless of status) will be sent tomorrow as soon as we have news and will provide as much information as possible. I hope to have box counts so you know what to expect. Your patience is greatly appreciated as I completely understand the stress and anxiety everyone is under."
The testing process has already been delayed for more than a month after the failure of an online testing system. At that time, state officials announced a a return to "pencil and paper" tests, but those materials have been delayed as well.
Four county schools have received their materials, but the majority have not. Many Tennessee counties have already completed the first round of the testing process.
PREVIOUS STORY: Hamilton County students will not begin TNReady testing until the week of March 14 at the earliest, according to Dr. Kirk Kelly, the district's director of testing. Dr. Kelly told Eyewitness News Friday that materials have still not arrived from the State Department of Education, making it impossible to begin testing on March 9, which had previously been announced as the most recent start date.
Officials already had to postpone the achievement tests after an online failure in February. Dr. Kelly said he hopes that testing materials will arrive by Tuesday March 8. "It takes a couple of days for us to deliver to each school, and we don't want to get backed up into Good Friday and Spring Break (March 25-April 1).
If the tests are in schools and ready by March 14, Dr. Kelly says, "It will be a five-day cycle, and if all goes well, we hope to be finished by March 18."
Officials from the State Department of Education told Eyewitness News:
"At least 126 districts have already received their materials with more currently en route. All districts will receive their tests in time to begin and complete them during the testing window, which ends March 18. Of the districts who have had delays in their shipping schedules, most have not shifted from their updated testing timelines for paper/pencil.
The tests for Hamilton County are scheduled to be shipped early next week, which the department indicated earlier this week to district officials. Choosing when to schedule a test and whether to adjust a timeline is a district’s decision, so I would refer you to the local district office for further information about when they are taking TNReady.
We continue to appreciate the flexibility of our educators and schools during this transition. As of this week, about half of districts have completed Part I of TNReady and the department will continue to communicate closely with districts as we move through the testing window."
Hamilton County testing schedule for Part I TNReady Assessment
All students in grades 3 to 8
Day 1 March 14, 2016 – English Language Arts Subtest 1
Day 2 March 15, 2016 – Mathematics and (8th grade Algebra I)
Day 3 March 16, 2016 – English Language Arts Subtest 2
Day 4 March 17, 2016 – Social Studies and Make-up testing
Day 5 March 18, 2016 – Make-up testing
All students in secondary yearlong courses
Day 1 March 14, 2016 – Algebra I and English III
Day 2 March 15, 2016 – Algebra II and English I
Day 3 March 16, 2016 – English II and U.S. History
Day 4 March 17, 2016 – Geometry
Day 5 March 18, 2016 – Make-up testing
PREVIOUS STORY: The Hamilton County Board of Education wants to relieve students and teachers of some of the pressure that's come with TNReady.
"Our teachers need a break. They've been beat up with all of this preparation and now it's not going to be used the way it's supposed to be used and so we want to do something to help them if we can," District 6 member Joe Galloway said.
Principals statewide were forced to suspend the online testing earlier this week after several districts reported delays and crashes.
Galloway announced Thursday his plans for a resolution asking the state to waive TNReady data in student, teacher and principal evaluations this year.
"With younger kids, having to work those instruments to do what needs to be done and now they're making a change. It's going to affect the outcome. Plus, there's some testing that's already been done in the high schools and now they're going to have to change that. So it's just not going to be a very fair assessment," he added.
"The validity of those tests has been strongly brought into question," District 9 member Dr. Steve Highlander said during Thursday's meeting.
Highlander supported Galloway's idea and applauded the state education commissioner for taking full responsibility for the debacle but would also like to see Measurement Incorporated, the state's vendor for TNReady, step up as well.
"When we pay someone several million dollars to create something, they should plan ahead and do it adequately and I appreciate anyone who feels like they're at fault standing up and taking the fall for where they were a miss and I feel like anyone should do that across the board," he said.
"It seems the whole process wasn't planned as well as it needed to be before it was implemented," Galloway said, "I mean, otherwise it would have gone smoothly."
School board members will vote on the resolution next week. If it's passed, it will then go to the state and they will decide if they will grant the waiver or not.
Channel 3 also wanted to know where board members stand with Superintendent Rick Smith's contract buyout. Many members, like Highlander, are still waiting for more information before they move forward with the process.
"I'm not willing to do anything until the investigation is over. I think it's much better to get it done properly than to get it done fast. I said all along that I want it to be done properly. We want to know what the investigation turns up," he said, "There's still so many questions that we don't know."
Hopefully more of those questions will be answered at Monday's hearing where Smith and several others are expected to testify.
Channel 3 will have a crew there and will keep you updated.