The Tennessee Department of Education released a Parent Guide & a School Guide for the TNReady test. The information presented was synthesized in digestible graphics and tables. For this reason, the information is critically important for all teachers who are implementing TNReady this year.
This post is a collection of key takeaways from the new guides posted on the DOE website.
These guides are the first large-scale release of information from the TDOE about what the assessment looks likes, how it differs from TCAP, and what everyone in TN needs to do to prepare for the TNReady test. The guides specifically included information about teacher evaluations & test accountability that hasn’t been widely publicized before.
Each guide is roughly 40 pages long. The guides are set up in such a way that someone who knows nothing about TNReady can easily understand the essence of the test, but they are also specific enough to be relevant and informative for teachers. In each section below, I’ve pulled out the most important information for teachers from the guides.
Page 5 of the TNReady School Guide includes the most important general facts about TNReady.
Here’s a breakdown of the most important information for teachers:
1. “TNReady will change over time as our math and language arts standards are reviewed and improved.”
It’s not clear what this will mean for TN in the coming years. However, this certainly leaves room for the DOE to both amend the standards and the test.
2. “Because this is a new and different type of test, student scores will likely be impacted as we set a new baseline for student performance.”
The TNReady School Guide does give some additional information about score reporting and determining proficiency levels. I’ll add more detail later in this post, but TNReady scores will not be available until next fall. This also means that teacher evaluations will be calculated differently, which is also discussed later in this post.
1. Math with be 2 parts & will have multi-step problems.
2. ELA will be in two parts, much like it has been with the Writing TCAP in past years. Questions will focus more on evidence.
3. The Social Studies test will be in an essay format.
4. The science test is not changing; it will be just like TCAP.
Pages 7-11 of the School Guide show TCAP vs. TNReady questions side by side for Math + ELA (grades 3-8 + 1 high school comparison). If you are a coach, this is a great tool to use in a professional development setting. Teachers, use this to better understand how TNReady is more rigorous than TCAP.
For example, the 7th grade ELA TCAP question asks how character traits were revealed. The TNReady question is two parts. The first part asks students to identify how the character was influenced by events in the text in a multiple-choice format. The second portion requires students to find evidence in the text to support their answer choice.
The TNReady question requires students to make connections within the text, analyze the character’s development throughout the text, and infer what could have caused the character to change. AND, all of this must be done using evidence.
It’s clear there is far more depth in the TNReady questions & they require multiple steps.
The score reporting timeline will undergo drastic changes this year. The DOE refers to seasons rather than months in their timeline, which I’d guess is because several other states were months behind in reporting students data after Common Core implementation.
The state currently attributes the delay through the summer to “conduct the standards setting process in summer 2016.” The state indicates this is a process where educators will look at student tests to determine proficiency levels for the test. I’ll be curious to see how involved educators actually are in the process of setting cut scores. It’s also unclear whether the “standard setting process” is this scoring process, or if the state will considering changing standards after adoption this year.
TNReady scores will not be released until the fall of 2016.
There are also widespread changes to the way teacher evaluation scores are calculated. The TDOE says this is to “alleviate the transition” to TNReady. The plan described in this guide spans 3 years & slowly phases out TCAP achievement data.
Over the next 3 years, the observation will consistently account for 50% of the evaluation. This year, old TCAP data will count for 25% of the evaluation & only 10% of the teacher evaluation will come from TNReady student data. By the 2017-2018 school year, TNReady will account for 35% of teacher evaluations.
The TDOE included checklists for a variety of stakeholders to ensure students are set up for success in taking their achievement tests online for the first time. The checklists start of page 25 of the guide.
For teachers, the state emphasizes creating a culture of technology integrated learning in your classroom. This could take on a number of forms based on the demographics of your students & resources in your school. I’ve tried some ed. tech. tools that students access on their phones like Kahoot, Edmodo, and Poll Everywhere. These 3 resources were proved to be engaging for students & they made my life easier and gave my students more exposure to technology tools. This tactic isn’t directly preparing students for the TNReady MICA Portal, but it reinforces technological literacy skills in the context of your content.
Pragmatically, TDOE is asking teachers to ensure their students have exposure and experience with the MICA testing platform. Even if you don’t have regular access to computers, there are ways to ensure your students are familiar with the platform. In the last two years, I’ve introduced my students to the platform through a paper lesson where we go through the different functions of each button on the portal & I give students tips and tricks to simplify navigating the portal. I have students take an exit ticket about the portal (it was MIST, now MICA). For the second lesson about the assessment software, I reserve computers & talk to school administrators about the importance of giving my students familiarity with the platform. While these lessons aren’t super engaging, they are critically important in allowing students to demonstrate content mastery. During the second lesson, I have students pull out their paper copy notes and we walk through the platform together before I let them start working on the task.
While the platform may seem intuitive, I’ve consistently watched my students struggle to navigate the platform. Using a traditional lesson plan followed by a guided practice on computers is a starting point for giving students exposure to the MICA Platform.
There is an entirely new vernacular around testing with the implementation of TNReady Standards. The glossary included on Page 29 of the School Guide is a basic guide to key terms that deal with the testing platform & assessment design.
1. TNReady test scores from the 2015-2016 school year will not be available until the fall of 2016.
2. Teacher evaluation calculations have changed & will change over the next three years of TNReady implementation. This year, TNReady will only count for 10% of achievement scores.
3.TNReady is rigorous; every teacher know this, but it merits restating. Looking at the TCAP vs. TNReady questions side by side plainly shows how much more we will ask from our students.
4. In spite of the technological resources your school does not (or does) have, teachers must be creative in integrating technology in their classrooms and giving students exposure to the MICA platform.
The School Guide is Parent Guide & a School Guide and on the Tennessee Department of Education Website.