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TNReady audit examines failures

By Tamas Mondovics

One of the most talked about issue that has made headlines as it affected many across the state
last year was the 2018 TNReady test.
According to a recent press release from the Tennessee Comptroller’s Office a performance audit of the Tennessee Department of Education has detailed many of the problems that led up to the difficulties in executing the spring 2018 TNReady tests.
As most already know the online student assessment tests were plagued with numerous
issues including login delays, slow servers, and software bugs. The first signs of trouble began on April 16, 2018, and continued through the end of the month.
The issues occurred are primarily credited to Questar Assessment, Inc’s performance and updates to the student assessment system.
Auditors also found the Department of Education’s oversight of test administration fell short of expectations the Comptrollers Office said in a release.
Nine findings show five issues surrounding TNReady including the department’s lack of sufficient, detailed information on its Work Plan with Questar rendered it less effective as a monitoring tool to ensure Questar met all deadlines.
Questar’s decision to make an unauthorized change to text-to-speech software without formally notifying the department is also said to have contributed to the online testing disruptions.
Questar’s failure to sufficiently staff customer support, resulting in lengthy call wait times and high rates of abandoned calls; a failure to track, document, and provide status updates to districts to let them know when students’ tests would be recovered, leaving districts unaware if their students completed the required tests, and inadequate evaluation and monitoring of internal controls implemented by external information technology service providers, such as Questar completed the list.
The Tennessee Comptrollers Office stated that “over the course of the audit, the department and Questar worked constantly to address the issues that caused or contributed to the spring 2018 testing problems. On October 1, 2018, Questar and the department signed a contract amendment introducing new requirements and accountability measures for Questar. The department also made adjustments to improve its contract management.” The Comptroller’s Office presented its audit findings to  the General Assembly’s Education, Health, and General Welfare Joint Subcommittee of Government Operations.
To view the audit report online, visit