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By Xavier Smith

The Senate Education Committee approved a bill last Wednesday that, if approved, could lower the impact of TN Ready exam scores on student grades.

The bill, sponsored by Sen. Dolores Gresham, R-Somerville, would allow local school boards to develop a policy and determine the impact the annual state assessment would have on student final grades in third through eighth grades.

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Currently, test scores make up 10 percent of the final grades for third- through eighth-grade students, which is set to increase to 15 percent next school year.

The bill would allow school boards to determine a percentage weight from zero to 25 percent for third through fifth grades, and 10-25 percent for sixth through eighth grades.

The bill would also require the state education department to return test scores in a timely matter to count toward final scores.

Trousdale County Schools have already announced they will delay the mailing of report cards until June 22 to allow for the district to receive TN Ready scores.

The bill was approved by a 9-0 vote in committee and will advance to the full Senate. The House previously passed its version of the bill by a 93-0 vote.

The bill follows a series of issues surrounding the TN Ready exam and its implementation, including last year, which saw more than 9,000 exams scored incorrectly by exam vendor Questar Assessment.

Students in third through eighth grades were unable to take the exam the previous year, as the previous state exam assessor failed to launch an online test and was unable to deliver testing materials to districts in time.

The delays and miscues have prompted parents and administrators to question the reliability of the state assessment, as well as the impact it has on students and educators.

Contributing: Chris Gregory, Hartsville Vidette