School districts in Tennessee are largely ready to administer the new computer-based Tennessee Comprehensive Assessment Program (TCAP) tests that will roll out for math and English in 2016. The final batch of computers have been installed at the Rutherford County Schools and at other districts just finishing preparations, as the computers continue the state’s effort to become online-ready for TCAP.
“We have made improvements as a state in our online readiness, in fact, I would say districts have made tremendous progress since 2014 when we did an assessment of online readiness at that point where they have chosen to make investments in technology locally and certainly with state investments that we’ve made in technology,” Education Commissioner Candice McQueen said.
Rutherford County Schools say they are 95.5 percent ready for the exam and have the required 1:6 device-to-student ratio defined by the state as a readiness standard. About $3 million has been allocated for the purchase of these computers.
“We’ve received all of the computers, but they have not been placed,” said Rutherford County Schools Director Don Odom.
The county received 3,920 Windows 7 computers in time for the TNReady exam, an improved online exam that rolls out in early 2016 and will replace pen-and-paper multiple-choice exams.
The TNReady exam will test students’ critical thinking skills and their understanding of standards and course materials. According to the Classroom Chronicles:
“Nearly all districts are reporting that they are prepared to administer TNReady online this school year. We know this because districts and schools self-reported if their networks met the requirements for online testing and if they had the appropriate number of devices to give the test online.”
The same source states that in the summer of 2015, about 99% of Tennessee’s schools said their networks were test-ready, which amounted to 1,691 schools out of 1,701. This online readiness means schools have the bandwidth capacity to run the assessment without any issue during the testing period. In spring of 2014, the percentage of exam-ready schools was 88%.
According to the Daily News Journal, Rutherford County has a higher preparedness rate than Metro Nashville Public Schools, Williamson County Schools and Wilson County Schools.
The Tennessee Department of Education will be testing the online program to ensure no structural problems will impede the test’s administration when the time comes next year. The Break MIST day trial run is scheduled for Oct 1, and the department states that they have:
“… developed a scheduling and logistics task force to support districts as they develop testing schedules and plans. In addition, the department will continue to answer questions and concerns from districts as they arise.”
East Tennessee districts have exam-ready networks, yet they still haven’t acquired the recommended number of devices for students to take the exams.