Here is KDE's analysis.
The Prichard Committee says:
Senate Bill 1 would take Kentucky education a giant step backward by replacing CATS with an off-the-shelf national norm referenced test, removing all requirements that students be able to analyze data, solve problems, and communicate their reasoning. This bill would lower Kentucky's goals and "dumb down" our testing. Help us stop this proposal by contacting members of the Senate Education Committee today.
What's At Stake?
Vote No on SB1
Senate Bill 1 would change Kentucky’s assessment and accountability system by requiring only multiple choice questions and eliminating all testing where students have to do their own analysis and explain their own thinking. Both open-response questions and portfolio writing would be abandoned.
SB1 would use an off-the-shelf national norm-referenced test as the main assessment: the kind that compares each student to a group of other kids and charts them on a bell curve. Overall, the bill would lower Kentucky’s standards and ensure that our children are less prepared for a successful future.
Arts, humanities, pratical living and vocational studies would no longer be a part of accountability. That would be another reduction in what we prepare our students to know and be able to do, and hard to square with Kentucky's constitutional expectation that schools will work to deliver that knowledge for each and every child.
SB1 would disrupt our schools. Teachers are still working through the major revisions to Kentucky Core Content for Assessment, added elementary testing for No Child Left Behind, and added readiness testing in grades 8, 10, and 11 (the Explore, Plan, and ACT tests). They need and deserve time to complete that process and deliver for students on the standards already before them.
Finally, Kentucky spends about $15 a student for CATS, which measures our own Kentucky standards. This is a fraction of what the state spends per pupil (less than twenty-five one-hundredths of one percent) and less than 25% of the cost of a single textbook. It’s far too small a savings for a bill that will confuse our schools, lower our standards, and weaken our children’s futures.
Senate Bill 1 would dramatically change Kentucky’s assessment and accountability system in ways the Prichard Committee does not support.
This from KASC:
First and most dismaying, the move to a national, norm-referenced test is an abandonment of our commitment to proficiency for ALL Kentucky’s kids.
The very foundation of Kentucky’s education system is for all students to reach proficiency or above. Only a criterion-based test like CATS measures students against a set standard, affirming that all students can reach that standard. National exams, like CTBS, are normreferenced tests designed to create a “norm” or average, and then tell us where each child falls on the bell curve in comparison to that average.
In Kentucky, we expect that ALL our 4th graders can multiply accurately. We want ALL our high school graduates to be able to explain how democratic governments preserve the rights of their constituents. We test for what our educators have decided all students need to know.
If we believe in proficiency for ALL students, then our tests must assess each student according to a rigorous standard, not as a point along an established bell curve.
Second, the Core Content and Program of Studies are sound guides for instruction and testing. They have been established through collaboration of qualified Kentucky stakeholders, and they are the firm foundation upon which the CATS assessment is built. National tests, no matter how good, are not based on what we as Kentuckians
have asserted that our students need to know to be educated, self-sufficient individuals.
Further, in a world that is demanding workers capable of higher-level thinking, we serve no one by removing the assessments that encourage just that.
Writing is an exercise in thinking and communication; thus, thinking is better assessed through the writing of portfolio entries and open-response answers than it is through the bubbling in of multiple-choice answers. Multiple-choice is an efficient mode of assessing knowledge, but writing allows students to show their work. The challenges of the real world are best met when teachers require students to think and to communicate that thinking in writing.
Those who are looking for longitudinal studies need look no further than the data that is already available in the reading and math CATS scores. Kentuckians who want to
know where our students stand in comparison to other American students already have the EXPLORE/PLAN/ACT testing data to scrutinize. The National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) also provides a respected, nation-wide comparison of our state’s performance.
Finally, the CATS system is an accurate way of measuring the quality of teaching and learning in a school, and shows real strengths and weaknesses that Kentucky educators and council members use regularly to find ways to improve. All educators across the state are working hard and though some may not be satisfied with their CATS results, the system gives them a rich source of information to shape their next steps and a worthwhile ultimate target. No other alternative, including those included in Senate Bill 1, would continue to urge schools to seek proficiency in arts, practical living, writing, and Kentucky history. The spectrum of what students should learn in science, social studies, and even math and language arts would also be diminished.
Improvements were made to the testing system in 1998 and 2007. Between now and 2014, schools need to be able to do their work on the firm foundation of our current accountability expectations. Our schools need to know that our state is committed to CATS and focused on continuing the progress we’ve made with this system. Many schools in Kentucky have made tremendous gains; improvement is underway throughout the state. Educators, parents, and students deserve the credit, but the sense of urgency to improve our schools is rooted in CATS.