Monday, November 02, 2009

Kentucky's Lowered CATS Standards Remained Relatively High

Over at Prichard, Susan Weston has been looking into the lowering of academic standards in Kentucky circa 2007.

You will recall, that is the time Kentucky was switching from the old CATS to the new (and not improved) CATS - thanks largely to NCLB's strictures screwing up a fairly good (yet, far from perfect) accountability system.

A retrospective report from the National Center for Education Statistics allows us to more clearly see the degree of lowering that actually went on. Turns out, Kentucky's reading and mathematics Kentucky Core Content Test (KCCT) standards were indeed lowered, but Kentucky still had higher proficiency standards than many other states.

The NCES report allows each state to compare its criteria for proficiency with that of other states and determine whether the rigor of its proficiency standards as represented by NAEP scale equivalents changed from 2005 to 2007. The analysis allows NAEP to corroborate state-reported changes in student achievement and provide states with an indicator of the construct validity and generalizability of their test results.

Weston reports here and here,
In fourth grade reading, the study shows:
  • 206 as the NAEP score identified as equivalent to our "old CATS" proficiency standard.
  • 205 as the NAEP score equivalent to our "new CATS proficiency standard.
In eight grade mathematics, the study shows:
  • 285 as the NAEP score equivalent to "old CATS" proficiency.
  • 279 as the NAEP score equivalent to "new CATS" proficiency.
In effect, the report gives us a formal demonstration that we lowered the proficiency bar in 2007. The reading change was quite small, but the math change more substantial.

The report also shows Kentucky's 2005 standards to have been quite high in national perspective, with only 21 percent of the included states having higher standards in either subject.
KSN&C argued against lowering academic standards at the time.

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