Commissioner McQueen Continues to Improve Testing in Tennessee with Special Task Force on Student Testing and Assessment

Monday, November 20, 2017 | 10:46am

NASHVILLE— Education Commissioner Candice McQueen announced the reconvening of a special Tennessee Task Force on Student Testing and Assessment to further study and identify best practices in testing at the school, district, and state level.

Commissioner McQueen first convened the assessment task force after taking office in 2015 to seek feedback from educators, parents, and stakeholders during the state's first year of TNReady. She has reconvened the task force annually to continue to work with representatives from across the state to develop strong recommendations based on in-depth discussions and analysis. Both previous iterations of the task force have developed recommendations to guide the work of the state, districts, and schools. Many of these recommendations are being implemented currently, including:

  • the reduction of state tests, including the elimination of the SAT-10, Explore, and Plan exams, and cutting the length of the third and fourth grade grade science and social studies TNReady tests
  • the timely release of assessment blue prints and practice test opportunities,
  • improved standards-level teacher reports and detailed family reports, and
  • the first statewide opportunity in the country for each high school senior to retake the ACT for free.

"This task force has been critical in our work to improve the testing experience for students while providing better information to teachers and parents," Commissioner McQueen said. "As in the past, I am confident that this group will continue to provide meaningful, actionable recommendations for improving both district and state assessment programs."

The group will meet throughout the winter, spring, and early summer. They will initially evaluate the first full year of grades 3-8 and End-of-Course TNReady exams and discuss the current year testing and progress. They will also be tasked with reviewing district formative assessment practices and their alignment to state standards and TNReady expectations, and provide further recommendations for improvement.

This third assessment task force includes many new participants who join members from a broad spectrum of stakeholders representing educators, legislators, parents, school board members, students, and communities across the state. Participants include (an asterisk denotes new members):

  • Candice McQueen, Tennessee Commissioner of Education
  • Sara Morrison, Executive Director, State Board of Education
  • Dolores Gresham, Chairman, Senate Education Committee
  • John Forgety, Chairman, House Education Instruction and Programs Committee
  • Harry Brooks, Chairman, House Education Administration and Planning Committee
  • Mark White, Chairman, House Education Administration and Planning Subcommittee*
  • Wayne Blair, President, Tennessee School Board Association*
  • Barbara Gray, President, Tennessee Education Association
  • Dale Lynch, Executive Director, Tennessee Organization of School Superintendents*
  • Sharon Roberts, Chief Strategy Officer, State Collaborative on Reforming Education*
  • Audrey Shores, Chief Operating Officer, Professional Educators of Tennessee
  • Gini Pupo-Walker, Tennessee Educational Equity Coalition and Senior Director of Education Policy & Programs, Conexión Américas*
  • Lisa Wiltshire, Policy Director, Tennesseans for Quality Early Education*
  • Shawn Kimble, Director of Schools, Lauderdale County School System*
  • Mike Winstead, Director of Schools, Maryville City Schools
  • Jennifer Cothron, Assessment Supervisor, Wilson County Schools*
  • Trey Duke, Coordinator for Federal Programs and RTI2, Rutherford County Schools*
  • Michael Hubbard, Director of Performance Excellence, Kingsport City Schools*
  • LaToya Pugh, iZone Science Instructional Support Manager, Shelby County Schools*
  • Bill Harlin, Principal, Nolensville High School, Williamson County Schools
  • Lara Charbonnet, Assistant Principal, Collierville High School, Collierville Schools*
  • Tim Childers, Assistant Principal, L&N STEM Academy, Knox County Schools*
  • Kevin Cline, Assistant Principal, Jefferson County High School, Jefferson County Schools*
  • Kim Herring, Teacher, Cumberland County High School, Cumberland County School District*
  • Jolinea Pegues, Special Education Teacher, Southwind High School, Shelby County Schools*
  • Stacey Travis, Teacher, Maryville High School, Maryville City Schools*
  • Josh Rutherford, Teacher, Houston County High School, Houston County School District*
  • Cicely Woodard, 2017-18 Tennessee Teacher of the Year, West End Middle Prep, Metro Nashville Public Schools*
  • Virginia Babb, Parent Representative, Knox County
  • Jennifer Frazier, Parent, Hamblen County Department of Education*
  • Student members will also be invited to join based on the topics for specific meetings

The first meeting of the task force will be on Monday, Dec. 11 in Nashville, with at least five additional meetings to take place between then and July 2018. Materials that are presented at the meetings will be posted on the department's website. For media inquiries, contact Sara Gast, director of communications, at (615) 532-6260 or