Western Kentucky Superintendents want testing changes to be modest
A bill currently sitting in the lap of state senators may change the way Kentucky students are assessed each year.
Senate Bill 1 suggests several changes to the Commonwealth Accountability Testing System, which for the past 10 years has been used to determine how well students are grasping fundamental learning and communication skills.
While the Senate was expected to vote on the bill Friday, it tabled the decision for further discussion this week. And while local superintendents agree that it’s time to re-examine CATS, not every suggested change is welcome.
One of the most dramatic changes would be the elimination of student writing portfolios from the annual assessment.
Dale Brown, superintendent of Warren County Public Schools, served on the task force for state assessment and accountability for the Kentucky Department of Education in 2008. He said the discussion of removing the writing component was proposed in session, and that the committee “finally had to agree to disagree.”
“I think writing is critical,” Brown said. “We possibly need to look at changes, but not removing writing from the assessment.”
The bill also proposes removing the evaluation of practical living, vocational studies, arts and humanities from the test, while still requiring the school to provide a separate assessment of those fields on its own...
...Brown said he thinks there are too many standards required in assessment, and that it may be best to identify the most critical ones and have students master those for assessment purposes. He also said it’s critical to student success that instruction be directed toward national standards, and that in turn the students will test better.
“This is not about chasing CATS,” Brown said. “It’s about identifying key standards and making sure students meet those standards.”
In his State of the Commonwealth address Wednesday, Gov. Steve Beshear suggested reviewing the Kentucky Education Reform Act as a whole, announcing he
will launch a task force to provide more consistent services....
...[Bowling Green Independent Schools Superintendent Joe] Tinius said he would like to see the current programs fully funded, in order to see if they could be successful, before abandoning them completely.
“We’re only getting 80 percent of what the (funding formula) says we should get for transportation,” he said. “Before we go into a different direction, we should fund the programs as they were intended and see.”
He also said scrapping the whole KERA format and starting over is not the solution...