House Bill 508 – the new assessment bill under consideration right now in the House Education Committee – needs your support. This bill answers concerns about CATS with substantive, constructive steps forward, and it avoids the elements of Senate Bill 1 that could take Kentucky education backward. We cannot afford to miss this opportunity to strengthen Kentucky education.That's the opening salvo in the Prichard Committee's call to action for its members and friends who are aksed to contact the House Education Committee in support.
That's the good part of the bill.
HB 508 begins with content standards revisions to get us the lean, globally competitive focus we need. The new test of those standards will allow Kentucky students to exhibit their problem-solving and communication skills while also showing how well Kentucky's kids match up against others in the nation...
An element that makes the bill especially strong is a requirement that what students learn in high school is what they need to know to succeed in college. These "alignment requirements" mean that the state's Council on Postsecondary Education must affirm that the new standards match college readiness requirements and monitor results of efforts to lower remediation rates.
In addition, the state agency that oversees teacher preparation – the Education Professional Standards Board – must ensure that teacher preparation programs at colleges and universities equip teachers to meet the standards.
A fast, responsible timetable calls for the new tests and program reviews to start in 2011-12, with CATS ending after the 2010-11 school year.
Some areas, such as the arts and writing portfolios, will no longer be part of a school's accountability test scores. But the bill requires that schools continue to emphasize those areas and that "program reviews" of these programs require both the districts and the state to check quality regularly.And that was the bad news. But the committee offers some assurance.
The bill's sponsor has stressed that writing will still be taught and that student portfolios will continue to follow them from year to year to track progress. HB 508 also calls for the program review results to be discussed during principals' annual evaluations.Given that the weight of public sentiment in recent years has even gotten Democratic Governor Steve Beshear calling for a review of KERA, it's awful hard to predict that no bill will come out of the General Assembly this time around. If that's the case, maybe the Coureir-Journal said it about right. House Bill 508 isn't good - but it's better than Senate Bill 1.
To their credit, the Prichard Committee statement deals directly with HB 508's greatest weaknesses:
We are quite concerned about the writing portfolio and the effect of removing student scores from accountability. Will the program review standards be rigorous? Will the state put its weight behind compliance? Will monitoring be funded by the legislature? We're looking for ways to improve the legislation and will pay very close attention to implementation if the bill passes.
That's some consolation.
Wanna add your voice? Prichard tells you how:
Please contact members of the House Education Committee today. Click here to e-mail a letter or call the Legislative toll free message line at 800-372-7181.
Tell members of the Committee to VOTE YES on HB 508.
Members of the Committee include: Rep. Linda Belcher; Rep. John "Bam" Carney; Rep. Hubert Collins; Rep. Leslie Combs; Rep. Jim DeCesare; Rep. Ted Edmonds; Rep. C. B. Embry; Rep. Bill Farmer; Rep. Tim Firkins; Rep. Jim Glenn; Rep. Derrick Graham; Rep. Jeff Greer; Rep. Jimmy Higdon; Rep. Reginald Meeks; Rep. Charles Miller; Rep. Harry Moberly; Rep. Rick Nelson; Rep. Marie Rader; Rep. Jody Richards; Rep. Tom Riner; Rep. Carl Rollins; Rep. Charles Siler; Rep. Dottie Sims; Rep. Kent Stevens; Rep. Wilson Stone; Rep. David Watkins; Rep. Alecia Webb-Edgington; Rep. Addia Wuchner.
SOURCE: Prichard Committee release