By Sally Absher

That is the directive on the TNReady test. Teachers are forbidden to look at or talk about the tests. And parents are certainly not allowed to see the tests! You just have to trust that everything lines up with the standards and the curriculum, the way the folks at the State (and your very own local school districts) tell you it does.

But after the recent fiascos with the TNReady tests, the good Moms at started reporting some of what they were hearing from teachers in Tennessee who were brave enough to share what they saw on TNReady tests (there is NO evidence that any of these comments came from Knox County). Here is a sampling of what was reported:

“The TNReady Part 1 Math test does not match what is on the pacing guides and curriculums. The blueprint given to teachers clearly states that conversions will not be tested. There was a question requiring conversions….another example was a question where kids had to plot out a shape using a coordinate plane (grid) but the blueprint clearly states that kids will NOT be tested on grids. I honestly, with all my heart, believe this is not our test (produced specifically for TN).”

(And guess what! This teacher is right!! TNReady is simply the rebranded Utah Student Assessment of Growth and Excellence (SAGE) assessment.  American Institutes for Research (AIR) purchased SAGE assessment questions, and Measurement Inc. paid AIR $2.34 million to lease the SAGE assessment questions for Tennessee).

This teacher added, “It is terrifying that there is no way to blow the whistle on all of this without risking our careers. I teach at a top 5% school and my kids were crying they were so stressed.”

A high school English teacher reported that on day one, students taking TNReady Part 1 subparts 1 and 2 read information then wrote essays two times before lunch. One of the tests was a field test (doesn’t count) but the teacher couldn’t tell the students that. Students who were not tested that day sat in homeroom until after lunch when the testing was finished. On each day of testing, about half the school was testing while the other half did nothing. This went on for four days.

A 5th grade teacher reported on the English/Language Arts (ELA) test, “There were three passages for the kids to read for their first essay. The TN Blueprint, once again, is wrong; it clearly states that kids in grades 3-5 will only read two passages. The students never practiced with three.”

A high school geometry teacher reported his students told him the geometry test asked them to “order these from least to greatest” but the answer sheet had four bubbles. They said “you can’t even answer that one.” Teens were crying in the cafeteria.

A high school teacher wrote, “The Algebra II test was ridiculous. My students said the majority of the test was constructed response and they had no idea where to begin or what the questions were asking.”

Several teachers reported that they were repeatedly told during training by the state that there would be no narrative essays, so they did not practice those. But during the test, students asked, “What is a narrative?”

Other teachers were surprised to see a survey question on the test. One said, “I thought parents had to be notified before students could be given surveys? The questions asked students about their writing habits, their opinions about the TNReady test, and about their school. Don’t parents have to give permission before students are given surveys?”

Again, yes, that teacher is right! Tennessee Code Annotated 49-2-211 says that parents or legal guardians shall have access to review all surveys PRIOR to being administered to the child. And parents have the right to opt their student out of participating in a survey. Section (c) says the district should disclose the purpose of the survey and who gets the data. Did your district notify you?

Teachers are risking their jobs to reveal this information. Teachers and proctors had to sign an agreement saying they would not look at the test or talk about it. To do so could be considered “compromising the test.”

Momma Bears question if the test has any integrity to compromise – it is full of flaws, makes children cry, and has no value in helping children or schools. They remind us that the results, which are projected to be much lower than past TCAP scores, won’t even be back until fall when students are well into the next grade.

Metro Nashville School Board Member Amy Frogge posted some of the complaints she received about the TNReady test on her public Facebook page:

My own daughter actually found five typos on her test today (misspellings, misplaced commas, etc.).

Young children were taught using inches, kilograms and grams as part of their standards, but the test used centimeters and ounces.

The answer sheet for TNReady was almost identical to the test booklet, and children were confused about where to write their answers.

Questions were completely confusing, and even adults proctoring the tests were uncertain of what some instructions meant.

None of the most advanced middle school math students at one school were able to complete the math test, and none of the students in that class understood the instructions on the test.

A child who could not speak or write any English was forced to sit for the test.

Math questions were written in a strange format that was very hard to understand and answer. The format required hand-written formulas and sentence explanations.

Parents are starting to realize that something is very wrong. Parents must do something about it because teachers can’t. It was reported that at one school in Chattanooga, 41% of parents refused the TNReady test for their kids. You can join them in April (