Sunday, March 29, 2009

Senate Bill 1 Action Shifts to Board of Education – Maybe

The legislative session has ended, and Senate Bill 1 (SB-1), which drops the CATS assessments, is now law.

Next, activity to implement the nuts and bolts of the bill shifts to the Kentucky Board of Education (KBE) and the Kentucky Department of Education (KDE).

The first chance these two groups will have to work SB-1 will come on April 1 and 2 at the next meeting of the Kentucky Board of Education.

However, if the agenda for the meeting is any indication, there doesn’t seem to be much planned to begin extensive work required by SB-1.

That’s not a good idea, because SB-1 has some fast action requirements that need to be worked right away.

For example, the new legislation requires the KDE to begin a comprehensive process of reviewing academic standards in all the CATS areas within 30 days of the bill’s enactment. That process has to be coordinated with the Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education. Certainly, the KBE will want to know what is going on in this effort, as the standards are the very heart of any good accountability system.

In addition, the KBE is required to revise the administration code for the assessments to outlaw inappropriate test preparation activities. This revision must include disciplinary actions to be taken for infractions, which are always difficult to develop. SB-1 says this regulatory update must happen within 60 days of the effective date of the bill, which I assume occurred when Gov. Beshear signed it last week.

Anyway, the only item in the KBE agenda that seems related to SB-1 is a generic reference to a review of “2009 Elementary and secondary legislation (attachment under separate cover).” This single event comes on day two of the board meeting, so if board members want to consider anything for later discussion, those discussions would have to come at a later board meeting.

I would suggest that the initial discussion of SB-1 needs to be moved forward to day one of the board’s meeting so an initial follow-up can occur on day two. Setting up anything in this state’s regulatory system in 60 days is difficult, at best, so the test practice rule revision work needs to start ASAP. Furthermore, the board might want to pass on some guidance to the KDE as it starts the standards review process. Having an extra day to work up that guidance would probably be a smart move, as well.

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