Thursday, April 30, 2009

Prichard Committee Finally Admits Writing in Kentucky Has Problems

While this Blog’s readers have been well-informed about the serious problems with writing instruction in Kentucky’s public schools, some education folk remained in denial.

We documented the evidence of writing’s woes over the past eight months in many reports and articles such as this, this and this and in three You Tubes here, here and here.

However, some education folk did all they could to preserve the status quo with Kentucky’s writing program. They argued bitterly in places like the Kentucky Department of Education’s 2008 Assessment and Accountability Task Force against some obviously necessary things like removing writing portfolios from accountability. These education folk did that despite strong evidence from national writing tests and the testimony of our own teachers that having writing portfolios in accountability was adversely impacting writing instruction.

In fact, even though task force member Steve Stevens, president of the Northern Kentucky Chamber of Commerce, requested more information on how Kentucky’s writing actually looked in the federal NAEP testing program, the Assessment and Accountability Task Force steadfastly avoided reviewing that important data.

But, others were listening, including our legislators. After examining the evidence, the legislature unanimously voted for Senate Bill 1, which makes significant changes to the assessment of writing in Kentucky, including removing writing portfolios from the state’s assessment program.

Now, even the Prichard Committee for Academic Excellence is admitting that Kentucky has writing problems with a rather belated analysis of federal NAEP writing scores, data that has been out for over a year.

Prichard adds little to the already well-made Bluegrass Institute case – which we started to make public just months after the release of that federal data – that Kentucky has serious problems with writing instruction.

And, Senate Bill 1 is already on the books.

Still, it is nice that Prichard finally admits what was obvious to most of us long ago – writing instruction in Kentucky is indeed faltering and needs serious revision.

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