I got a surprise yesterday when the Bluegrass Institute ran a press conference to release my new report, “Selling ‘Performance’ Assessments with Inaccurate Pictures from Kentucky.”
However, the surprise wasn’t a tricky question about my report, which discusses increasing pressure in all the states to adopt state assessment models that would look very similar to Kentucky’s long-failed Kentucky Instructional Results Information System (KIRIS).
Instead, a press conference participant provided some new information, saying that Kentucky’s usually rather fearful and quiet educators are getting so upset that they are starting to speak out – so far only off the record – about a possible problem in the new, Common-Core-aligned Kentucky Performance Rating for Education Progress (KPREP) tests. Educators charge that question prompts for the “On-Demand Writing” element in KPREP are inappropriate for Kentucky’s students. In addition many students are getting inaccurate scores that don’t reflect writing abilities they are demonstrating daily in their classrooms.
If the new allegations about the KPREP On-Demand Writing questions pan out, the validity and reliability of all of Kentucky’s testing that relies on student written answers will need careful examination.
The written answer complaints could point to a significant, though not surprising, issue. Kentucky has struggled with writing evaluations ever since the Kentucky Education Reform Act of 1990 (KERA) was launched a quarter of a century ago. In fact, as my new report points out, attempts to use Writing Portfolios for assessment were among the many failures the state experienced with its radical testing programs.
One thing is certain: states now contemplating changes to their own school assessment programs need to do some very careful analysis before they get talked into repeating Kentucky’s past mistakes with exotic testing ideas. That careful examination should include a review of “Selling ‘Performance’ Assessments with Inaccurate Pictures from Kentucky.”
You can hear the entire press conference, including the interesting discussion about current writing scoring problems in Kentucky, by clicking here. The comments about KPREP On-Demand writing problems start at 23 minutes and 50 seconds into the recording.