Beware of 2016 Test Scores

Remember back in the spring when the state’s new standardized testing program — TNReady — went down in flames? While my elementary-aged kids celebrated not having to go all ten rounds with TNReady, what that means now is that Memphis School Guide is a little short on good school data for you. Oh, there’s some data. But it’s not that good.

The Tennessee Department of Education did roll out a new and more user-friendly version of the State Report Card that does contain a limited amount of 2016 data, but given the disastrous testing season, it all needs to be taken with a pretty huge grain of salt. A few thoughts on that:

High school scores: The big kids (9th-11th graders) did finish their tests in the spring, so the Achievement* scores (shown as “TNReady ELA” and “TNReady Math”) and Growth* scores (shown as “TVAAS Literacy” and “TVAAS Math”) for high schools on the State Report Card are up-to-date. But remember, these were brand new and much more difficult tests, and they were taken online (as opposed to on paper), so scores are considerably lower than they were in the past. They’re supposedly more reflective of reality, though, so that’s good news if you really want to know how your kid stacks up against other students taking standardized tests. 

Elementary & middle school scores: Despite the fact that testing was canceled for 3rd-8th graders statewide, some districts gave their youngest students (K-2) an assessment. For those schools, you’ll find a Growth (TVAAS) score on the TN State Report Card, but it only reflects test results from any K-2 students (only 2nd graders in SCS schools) who took the test. So exercise caution in making any serious judgment about a school based on those numbers.

Given the uneven reporting of test results from 2016, we’re choosing to leave the 2015 results up on Memphis School Guide for now. If you want to check high school scores on the State Report Card, go for it, but any 2016 scores posted for elementary or middle schools you find there are suspect at best.

Regardless of the validity of the test scores in any given year, we always encourage parents to consider them as just one factor in determining whether a school is a good fit for your child and family. Check out our page on What Makes a Good School? for tips on how to do a full assessment.

*For more on what Achievement and Growth scores mean, read our About Test Scores page.