Sunday, October 19, 2008

Thinking about the CATS Writing Portfolio and the ACT

At last week's CATS Task Force meeting there was a suggestion that Kentucky - being the only state to use writing portfolios in its state assessment - is surely out-of-step with other, more enlightened states.

After all, if writing portfolios were such a good idea, everybody would want them. Right?

Supposedly to fix this problem, those who want to discontinue the problematic CATS suggest substituting the ACT, with its over-advertized benchmarks.

But lo and behold, Kentucky is one of just five states that requires the ACT for all high school juniors.

I'm just sayin' ...

1 comment:

Richard Innes said...

In education, trends can be important.

In the case of portfolios, the trend is a decline in the number of states using them for accountability, so now only Kentucky is left.

In the case of testing all students with the ACT, the trend of states using the assessment is increasing. One-hundred percent ACT testing started at the beginning of the decade with Illinois and Colorado. Now, more states, including Kentucky, have been added. No state has dropped 100 percent ACT testing after adopting it.

It was reported at CATS Assessment and Accountability Task Force Meeting 5 that an overwhelming majority of respondents to the call for public comment believe that having portfolios in accountability stifles good writing instruction. During the meeting, KEA President Sharron Oxendine echoed that sentiment and confirmed the number of 69 percent who are against portfolios in accountability. Oxendine’s comments were based on a survey of union members several years ago. In fact, the union is officially opposed to keeping the portfolios in accountability. You missed mentioning all of that in your blog item about the meeting (

By the way, I would love to know why the data on NAEP writing that task force member Steve Stevens requested at meeting 2 was never presented. When, after 15 years of an intense writing effort, Kentucky only statistically outperformed just five states among the 45 that participated in 2007, clearly some strong questions need to be asked about how well portfolios are really working. Since this obviously pertinent data was ignored for three meetings, one has to wonder why.