In May 2 IssueRussell County News
“CATS” testing, was put to sleep by the legislature in the last session and there isn’t much mourning at the school district.
“We feel great about it,” Superintendent Scott Pierce said. “Very positive… It allows us to get back to teaching every subject every year.”
Pierce said that the way the Kentucky testing program had been administered ended up pushing the schools to focus an inordinate amount of time teaching for specific test subjects some years, then shifting the focus to the next year’s testing subjects when that test was over.
Starting with next year’s curriculum the district’s students will be geared to teach all students all subjects on a grade appropriate level, rather than the previous un-even and shifting focus testing had generated in schools across Kentucky, Pierce said.
State Senator Vernie McGaha said that the senate had this bill pending for some time, but opposition to it had flagged this year.
“I think the outcry from teachers and parents got loud enough that the others heard it,” McGaha said. “óMore and more of the legislators came to understand that the testing system was not geared towards the students, but toward measuring the schools.”
He said the test did not give educators or parents what they needed to know how students were doing compared to other students in the nation, or internationally.
“I know from my time as a principal that it is difficult to glean any information from that test to explain to parents how their children are doing.”
Pierce said the future testing will be one of the “norm-reference” tests that will allow educators to review how classes are comparing to others around the country, but will also parents to see how their child is doing compared to nation-wide scores.
“This will give us a better comparison of how well the students are doing,” Pierce said.
He added that the new testing, which ever test is used, will be more like the standardized tests that their parents likely remember.
“If you look at how well all the children are doing on a test you can decide whether a school is being successful or not,” said McGaha.
He said the federal department of education, which oversees compliance with the No Child Left Behind Act, will have to approve the state’s new testing program. Because of the requirement for their approval districts will be continuing some testing until the new testing program is approved.
Part of the new testing schedule includes the pre-ACT and ACT test, which is the admission testing accepted by state colleges and universities.
As decisions are made about which tests to use in the coming years the district will be using the Kentucky Core Contents Test, which has been part of the schedule previously, in order to continue to comply with federal No Child Left Behind laws.