School systems across the state are making major upgrades to prepare for new computerized testing next year. But some districts are finding, even with added state dollars, they do not have the funds to make the changes in time.
To align with Common Core standards, all students will be taking the PARCC assessment next year. The test is set to replace the Tennessee Comprehensive Assessment Program.
The state has divided up $51 million dollars to give districts for technology to make the preparations. In Monroe County, the district is using their $400,000 chunk of the funds to buy the computers they need. Even though they have purchased 600 new computers with the funds, Monroe County Schools Director of Technology Gary Sharp says it's not enough.
"If we're going to do online testing, then they need to help me finish the task that I've started," said Sharp.
So far, Sharp has replaced 14 of the districts 25 labs. He said he needs an additional $120,000 to get the job done. At the current rate, he said he will have to tell the state that one school will not be able to take the PARCC.
"We'll probably have one school that will not be able to do online testing," Sharp said.
The cash strapped district has been using 7 year old refurbished computers.
"It got so tough with the older computer lab, I honestly quit taking my class," said Vonore Middle School teacher Shauna Bowers.
Sharp has already replaced Vonore Middle School's computer labs. Bowers said she uses the new, faster computers regularly for practice testing, research, and writing.
Sharp operates on a technology budget of $140,000 for the entire district. He said that's only enough to pay the bills and he doesn't think the district will be able to make up the difference.
He is hoping to catch lawmakers attention so every school will be able to take the tests come next year.
In Knox County, the district is also working furiously to upgrade their schools in time for the PARCC assessments. The district has spent millions installing wireless internet in all of their schools.