From district to district, and perhaps from school to school within districts, this spring's testing is certainly going to be different. Many districts will drop from having one too many accountability scores - down to having one too few. Where accountability scores exist at all, they will be calculated locally.
Fayette County Superintendent Stu Silberman seemed to get the ball rolling by declaring that Fayette County would proceed as usual by scoring writing portfolios, the Lexington Herald-Leader reported.
"The students already have put a lot of work into them, and we need to honor their commitment," Silberman said. "It's up to each individual school, but we've suggested that they complete the portfolios, grade them and give the students their grades and feedback."
On one hand, word about what and how the assessment is going to be different is still being filtered out to schools. According to KDE spokeswoman, Lisa Gross, so far the only guidance sent to districts from KDE is this chart. On the other hand, assessment time will be here before we know it. School folks are scrambling.
Silberman also said the district expects to calculate and make public its own "academic index" based on this spring's testing, whether the state publishes a performance index or not.
Adding to the confusion is the arts & humanities and practical living/vocational studies portions of the KCCT. As Gross confirmed, "the arts & humanities and practical living/vocational studies portions of the KCCT will still be sent to schools by our testing contractor, and they can administer them if they wish." Some teachers of these subjects have apparently been told that they can design their own tests from these questions.
This may have led other teachers to wonder if other sections of the test might be reconstructed by teachers - and they can not.
The Kentucky Board of Education meets next week. Additional guidance to school districts is likely to follow.
In Hopkins County, The Messenger (subscription) reports,
Schools' preparations for this year's state assessment are getting some last-minute revisions...."We got some inklings of it before we got the final version of Senate Bill 1," said Hopkins County Assistant Superintendent Linda Zellich. "We were pretty sure early on that things were going to change with the writing portfolio. What we're really surprised about is ... the timing issue, that it went into effect immediately."
The Paducah Sun (subscription) reports that,
Dan Evans, the district's assessment coordinator, said ..."If they want to revamp the testing system, certainly there are some things that need to be changed, but throwing things out that we've worked all year on makes no sense."
Zellich said she believes it will be the district's recommendation to score portfolios locally this year and provide feedback to students and teachers. The portfolios are "effort intensive" but "yield some good work," she said."There's no doubt ... that students' writing skills have improved," Zellich said...
..."It still remains very confusing to us," she said. "We're still not sure what we're going to do and when we're going to do it. That creates some anxiousness on our part because we want to know, our principals want to know and the public wants to know...
In northern Kentucky, Walton-Verona Schools Deputy Superintendent Gene Kirchner had to assuaged potential concerns about the district decreasing its focus on art and humanities.
McCracken County students will be tested this spring in arts and humanities and practical living/vocational skills even though the legislature has attempted to change school testing... The McCracken school board passed a measure Thursday night allowing the district to continue testing on arts and humanities and practical living as well as the writing portfolios.
Paducah Assistant Superintendent Vickie Maley said she has talked with principals, and Paducah schools likely will score their own writing porfolios. As for the rest of the test, she said administrators are waiting to see the final outcome at the state level...
Eleanor Mills Spry, assistant superintendent for Murray Independent Schools, is attempting to stay positive about the changes. “One of the most positive aspects gathered from the legislation is that schools will have fewer days of assessment, which, in turn, provides additional instructional time for students.”
"We will focus on the core skills that all children need to be successful (reading, writing, arithmetic) without sacrificing those things which create well rounded individuals (Science, Social Studies, Arts/Humanities, Practical Living/Vocational)," Kirchner said in the e-mail."We wanted our people to understand that our expectations haven't changed even though there's no state assessment (on the subjects)," Kirchner said.
In Hardin County,
Nannette Johnston, superintendent ... said once the bill is signed district officials will to decide what to do with the portions of the test that are discarded, such as the writing portfolio. Individual districts still can do their own assessments of these areas, and Johnston said she and others will decide what pieces will help them monitor student performance.
Jayne Risen Morgenthal, superintendent of Elizabethtown Independent Schools, said the quick turnaround between the possible changes and this year’s scheduled testing.In Pike County, schools Superintendent Roger Wagner is playing it safe. He notes that the legislature still has two days remaining in which to consider legislation. Should Governor Beshear veto this bill outright, or use line-item veto on the bill, it will go back to the legislature for review.
“I think the timing could have been better,” she said. ... Overall, Morgenthal is happy with the bill, but waiting for instructions has been difficult, she said.
"Until he signs the bill, it is not law, and the current CATS testing laws standWagner said. Of course, SB 1 passed both houses without dissent and the Governor has said he will sign the bill.
“I can’t anticipate what the Governor says he’ll do,” Wagner said. “We’ll knowSB 1 has gotten a mixed reception at Murray Independent and Calloway County schools.
more at the end of the month.”calling, changes to testing law has created,
“a lot of confusion with everyone.”
Eleanor Spry, superintendent of curriculum and instruction for Murray Independent, said Wednesday that there are a lot of unknowns about the move so schools officials aren't planning any response until more information can be obtained.Spry said the district honors the intent of the CATS system and its predecessor and will continue to move toward a goal of academic achievement.“If instruction was important then, it still continues to be important whether you assess it or not” she said. “ So we value our teachers. We value the instruction they give and what they teach our kids.In Floyd County Superintendent Henry Webb sees the decision to modify the testing as a positive change
Calloway County Schools Superintendent Steve Hoskins said the testing process is evolutionary“It's probably time to evolve now. It's advantageous to regroup. ... However Hoskins believes writing portfolios should continue to be an important part of the curriculum.
The State Journal reported last week that reformers' worst fears may already be coming true in some places.
.“We are not going to see too many changes in the interim,” Webb said. “I think the changes are going to be beneficial for both students and staff. It’s a good move to eliminate the portfolios from the accountability process. I’m pleased with the changes that have been made, and I think it will continue to help us move forward.”
Superintendent Rich Crowe told the Frankfort Independent Board of Education last week that he’s inclined to focus on curriculum areas that actually count toward the ratings. Scoring of writing portfolios may be scaled down. “If they’re not going to score it, and if it’s not going to count for anything, I don’t know why we should waste our time,” Crowe said.