Monday, February 22, 2010

Will cutting school days hurt education?

– Thanks to Kentucky's lousy education data system, who knows?

"There is absolutely no evidence at all that adding these two days had any impact on the learning process."

House Speaker Greg Stumbo, D-Prestonsburg, as quoted in the Lexington Herald Leader

Some of the education blogs are in an uproar over House Speaker Greg Stumbo’s recent comments that we could cut two days out of Kentucky’s school year without any damage. The education outrage is reinforced by the fact that Senate President David Williams, R-Burkesville, apparently agrees with Stumbo.

But, is this counter-intuitive assertion really right?

The sad answer is, who knows? For years, Kentucky wasted its valuable time and money on an untrustworthy assessment program that never gave us accurate results on student and school performance. We finally shut that CATS assessment down last year, but it will be several more years before our new testing program is up and running.

Meanwhile, there really isn’t any data to prove how adding two more school days after 2006 really did work.

But, comments posted in other blogs point out that if the added days were just used for more CATS test prep – not for added days of real and effective instruction – then the politicians just might be right.

Again, since there was no scientific analysis of the impact of the school year change, and no credible data existed to support such an analysis, how can anyone really know?

This, readers, is why we push so hard at the Bluegrass Institute to get much better data on our school system. The present absence of such data is forcing our state’s leaders to make very important budget decisions virtually in the dark.

We don’t have the “bang for the buck” data our legislators need, and – after two decades of KERA – there simply is no excuse for not having that.

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