Testing Executives Try To Reassure Tennessee Lawmakers About Online Exams

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The firm brought in to run Tennessee’s student testing program is telling lawmakers that it won’t rush the transition to online exams.

Executives with Minneapolis-based Questar Assessment hope to reassure legislators that last year’s botched rollout was an aberration. The ballyhooed, new, online TNReady exams crashed during the spring testing period, forcing the entire project to be scrapped for the year.

Questar chief executive Jamie Candee says it’s been running online tests for a decade and won’t make the same mistakes.

“We’ll be very transparent and very visible in the state,” she said at a legislative hearing on Wednesday. “We’re here to support you. We’re here to support the educators in Tennessee. We’re here to support the students.”

Tennessee also plans to take a slower approach the second time around. They’ll roll out online tests gradually over three years — starting with the schools where they worked best last time.

High schools that have successfully used online tests will be able to decide for themselves whether to take them during this school year, while all Tennessee students in earlier grades will take pencil-and-paper exams.

But Education Commissioner Candice McQueen says the state’s committed to phasing out paper. She says Tennessee just won’t be preparing students for the future unless they move tests online.

This story was originally published on August 17, 2016.

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