Friday, May 1, 2009

Prichard Finally Admits Kentucky Assessment Grading Got Easier Over Time

The Prichard Committee’s Blog just admitted that there was a steady relaxation of grading rigor in Kentucky’s old assessment programs, bringing Prichard into agreement with a case the Bluegrass Institute has been making for many years.

Our readers know the Institute has conducted all sorts of studies of dubious scoring in the state’s public school accountability system.

For example, one of our very first fliers had a graph like this one, updated here with the latest data, which shows how the changeover from KIRIS to CATS after 1998 led to an explosion in CATS School Accountability Indexes. The CATS rescoring after 2006 added another, unwarranted jump in scores. We’ve published a similar graph in our Ten Great Reasons for School Choice flier since 2005.

We also developed other comparisons such as our “NAEP Ruler” to examine proficiency rate progress in CATS versus what the NAEP shows. And, after the legislature adopted Senate Bill 130 in 2006, we began to look at the very different messages the new EPAS tests and CATS were providing. You can find more about the Institute’s investigations of inflation in our Wiki site by clicking here.

Anyway, long before the recent legislative session began, the Bluegrass Institute had assembled impressive evidence that scores from Kentucky’s testing system had steadily inflated.

In fact, CATS score inflation was one of the reasons why the legislature unanimously voted to discard CATS – like KIRIS, it had simply worn out its own credibility by painting inflated pictures of our true performance.

Anyway, even though the dust has settled on Senate Bill 1, it’s nice that Prichard belatedly admits our past assessments were indeed becoming watered down over time.

Clearly, this problem will require better attention as we revise our testing program, and it is helpful to have Prichard on the same page regarding this problem.

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