Friday, April 3, 2009

Kentucky’s Education Leaders Now Get It!

– The CATS accountability program was going to leave kids behind

The Bluegrass Institute has pointed out for some time such as here and here and in our four-part You Tube series:

Does Kentucky's CATS Assessment Require Proficiency Pt 1

Does Kentucky's CATS Assessment Require Proficiency Pt 2

Does Kentucky's CATS Assessment Require Proficiency Pt 3

Does Kentucky's CATS Assessment Require Proficiency Pt 4

that the CATS public school accountability program absolutely was NOT designed to lead to proficiency for all students. We showed how in key academic subjects like math, schools could escape accountability with proficiency rates way below 50 percent all the way out to 2014.

For a long time, CATS fans refused to admit this problem existed. Kentuckians heard claims again and again that CATS was much better, for example, than No Child Left Behind. Our readers have good memories, and you know who these folks are, so no need for embarrassment here.

Anyway, times are a’ changin’.

On Thursday, April 2, Associate Commissioner for Assessment and Accountability Ken Draut told the Kentucky Board of Education that dropping the CATS Accountability Index and focusing instead on the percentages of Novice, Apprentice, Proficient, and Distinguished students was a good idea. He directly admitted that schools could have a CATS accountability index of 100 and still leave kids behind.

Draut’s comments were echoed by Kentucky Board of Education chair Joe Brothers (Hear their comments here).

It’s nice to finally be vindicated by these education leaders, but it’s even better that the state’s education policy makers are now starting to re-aim our school assessments in the right direction. At yesterday’s state board of education meeting both department of education staff and the board seemed to be enthusiastic about starting to work on a much better plan outlined by the legislature last month in Senate Bill 1. That’s a wonderful change and a further indication that our education leaders now understand the Bluegrass Institute’s message: CATS was going to leave kids behind -- and that wasn’t what anyone really wanted.

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