Tuesday, April 14, 2009

KY Chamber Right and Wrong About Bill That Drops CATS

The Kentucky Chamber of Commerce has an Op-Ed in Monday’s Herald-Leader that generally praises Senate Bill 1, which replaces CATS testing with something much better. However, the Chamber repeats the same fretting about the temporary suspension of Kentucky’s own school accountability program while we take the time to get the new assessment right.

Frankly, I don’t understand why the Chamber and a few others are so worried about this brief suspension of our separate, state-operated CATS accountability system.

CATS aimed us in the wrong direction. We have written extensively about that in this Blog and in other Bluegrass Institute publications. The unanimous votes for change in both houses of the legislature show that our legislators understand that, too.

For example, data on our continued very heavy college remediation rates for recent high school graduates is now available through 2006, and there has been scant improvement over this four-year set of data.

As far as those kids who don’t go on to higher education, our region-leading youth unemployment rates provide ample evidence that employers don’t see what they need in these kids, either.

So, while we revamp our poorly focused tests, it just makes sense to unfetter our teachers to start teaching according to what the latest research tells us. It won't help our kids if we force teachers to continue down the misguided CATS path for two more years while we fix our broken assessment.

And, only very unwise teachers will fail to understand that state assessment isn’t dead. It will be back in just a few years. So, smart teachers will take advantage of the time to readjust teaching in ways that work better for our kids. For those teachers who decide to coast, the free ride won’t last long.

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