Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Calling the KDP and Beshear out...

This may come as a shock to the entire liberal and center-left blogosphere but I am in full favor of signing Senate Bill 1 into law. If the state is going to make students take manadatory tests, why not just let them take the ACT and not have to deal with all these CATS exams that, at the end of the day, result in teachers not being able to go through the complete textbook.

CATS, if you ask me, was a complete waste of my time. I had better things that I would have liked to do, like learn about the American political system or read British literature literature that the state curriculum required but I never really cared for.

Democratic State Party Chairwoman Jennifer Moore sent this email out to the Kentucky Democratic Party listserv, and I'm only posting excerpts:
This week, Senator Williams is publicly touting the merits of his own Senate Bill 1, which would do away with the Commonwealth Accountability Testing System (CATS) in our public schools and replace it with multiple choice tests developed for national use.

CATS requires students to exhibit critical thinking by applying those skills to problem solving essay questions. Williams' bill advocates generic national testing that relies on students' skills to answer multiple choice questions by filling in a bubble on an electronic score card.

Our Democratic Governor Steve Beshear has vowed to protect the Kentucky Education Reform Act (KERA) by vetoing SB1 if necessary. Governor Beshear puts Kentucky's children and their education at the very top of his administration's priority list and while he knows we must never stop working to improve the Commonwealth's educational system - SB1 is NOT an improvement.
Here's an excerpt from the WHAS Political Blog:
Reactiing to the governor's opposition to his bill, Williams called Beshear's comments "amateurish" and "pathetic" and said he doesn't believe the governor has even read the bill. Williams defended the move to get rid of the CATS test, saying it isn't measuring students' knowledge of basic skills. Many teachers and school administrators agree with Williams but wonder if a multiple choice, nationally normed test would be any better.
The CATS test doesn't really measure student performances at all...just look here.
Meanwhile, the Senate Education Committee heard from three testing experts who poked holes in the premise of senators David Williams and Dan Kelly that the ACT test would do a better job of measuring students' knowledge from year-to-year. Ben Oldham, Skip Kifer and Thomas Guskey of the Testing Institute at Georgetown all agreed that the CATS test measures school performances, not students. But they added that the multiple choice only ACT or other similar test wouldn't do the trick either and wouldn't tell parents whether their kids are meeting the goals and standards set by the Kentucky Department of Education.
There must be a solution to all this but having taken the CATS exam against my will while in high school, I can safely say that it didn't measure my performance. I believe that the Advanced Placement and SAT-2 exams do a better job at such performances.

I believe that Chairwoman Moore was wrong to call out David Williams for this bill. Let's see what the task force that the Department of Education decides to do but the future of CATS should be minimal at best. It's a poorly done exam, no offense to those that write the questions but I'd rather take the AP exams over CATS if I had to do it all over.

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