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Testing contracts under review

Staff Reports • Updated Apr 25, 2018 at 8:00 AM

Under the direction of House Speaker Beth Harwell, Rep. Jeremy Faison officially requested a review by the Tennessee Comptroller related to recent testing issues of the Tennessee Ready school assessments.

The request follows several days of problems tied to Tennessee Ready’s online testing platform, the most significant of which occurred on Tuesday when the Tennessee Department of Education reported its testing vendor had experienced a cyber-attack on its computer system.

The day before and after the attack, many students were unable to log into or complete their tests. The tests are important to students, teachers and schools across Tennessee because they count for large portions of final student grades, as well as final teacher evaluations and school rankings.

While the legislature passed a bill last week to keep this year’s tests from penalizing a student or teacher for the 2017-2018 school year, there are still multiple questions that remain to be answered by the Department of Education and its Tennessee Ready testing vendor, Questar.

“While we may have figured out a temporary fix for this year’s TNReady problems, there are still questions that need to be answered, especially related to the contract with the testing vendor,” said Faison, R-Cosby. “We need to get all of the facts before us so we’re able to make the decisions necessary to best benefit the futures of our students, teachers and school administrators.”

A few of the specific questions posed by Faison during initial talks with Comptroller Justin P. Wilson include:

• Are there claw-back provisions available, financial or otherwise, for failures in testing procedures?

• Is Questar required through their contract to act in full faith and fidelity in ensuring testing problems are solved?

• Is Questar contractually required to protect all student testing data? If so, what remedies are available for any personal information accessed or lost during the system’s cyber attack?

“We owe it to our students and parents to ensure that their personal and confidential information is not compromised, and what steps will be taken to ensure that information is not vulnerable,” said Harwell, R-Nashville. “These assessments are important for accountability, and we need teachers, administrators, parents and students to have confidence in the integrity of the test.”

 

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