Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Overhauling Education Reform in Kentucky

This from Pat Crowley at the Cincinnati Enquirer:

School reform on tap

Draud plans task force
on overhaul of testing

FRANKFORT - Kentucky Education Commissioner Jon Draud said Tuesday that he plans to form a task force to study overhauling public school testing and might expand the effort to include the state's landmark education reform act.

Draud, a former state lawmaker from Edgewood, made the comments after appearing before the Senate Education Committee. The panel is considering but failed to act on legislation that would replace the Commonwealth Accountability Testing System, or CATS, the testing component of the 18-year-old Kentucky Education Reform Act known as KERA.

Draud said it appears that the bill is stalled and will not come up for a vote because of strong disagreements among committee members.

"The plans are for the Kentucky Department of Education to create a task force to look at all the issues with assessment and accountability, and maybe look at the total issue of school reform," Draud said.

"It's obvious with Senate Bill 1 that there is still a lot of disagreement among Republicans and Democrats on the assessment and accountability, and there is a lot of disagreement in the field with teachers and administrators that aren't comfortable with certain parts of our CATS system," he said.

Draud said his goal is to "look at those issues and get the interested parties involved." "Teachers, administrators, key legislators, people like that," he said.

"We don't want to have any new assessment system without having, particularly, teachers and administrators involved in the process."

Draud said he will likely form the task force "after the General Assembly gets out of town" in mid-April. The panel would study the testing system and make recommendations to legislators and the Department of Education. It could also take a look at potential changes to KERA, which was last changed in 1997.

"I think something needs to be done," Draud said, adding that many educators are unhappy with the writing portfolios that are part of the reform package.

But, knowing how Frankfort operates from his decade as a legislator, Draud also realizes that winning support in the legislature for change will be difficult.

"We still don't have consensus from Republicans and Democrats on a lot of issues," he said. "I tried to point out (to the Senate Education Committee) that this should be a nonpartisan issue, trying to move education forward in this state.

"If there isn't common ground," Draud warned, "it is going to be detrimental to the state. That's the reason to create this task force; to try to find that common ground."

And from Raviya Ismail at the Herald-Leader:

Testy exchange marks hearing on CATS change

FRANKFORT --Sen. David Williams, R-Burkesville, admonished the state secretary
of education Tuesday for telling a committee that she would come to testify about important legislation only if invited to do so.

Then, Williams apparently tried to pick a fight.
"I respect the prerogative of this body to set its own agenda and to invite the people that it would care to have participate in the process," Mountjoy began. She said she has spoken before the legislature for 15 years "and I don't think I've ever come without a specific invitation to present to you."

Williams interrupted the testimony: "Are you taking a slam at the committee?"


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