This story started with an Op-Ed titled “Time to Raise Expectations for Education,” from Bob King, the President of the Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education (CPE).
This article was mainly meant to introduce parents and general Kentucky citizens to the CPE’s “High School Feedback Reports,” which are loaded with interesting information about what happens to graduates of Kentucky high schools once they enter college.
King also talks about how the current school curriculum isn’t aligned to college and workplace needs and that we need to refocus. He also takes a shot at adults in the system who tend to protect themselves first before looking to the needs of their students.
Overall, it was a good message, but it was bound to raise the ire of those who have pushed the status quo, who don’t like to admit to problems with our current assessment system, and who therefore don’t like the message contained in the feedback reports and other indicators like ACT test results.
Ire was indeed raised, and a reaction to King’s article was penned by Skip Kifer, a retired professor from UK’s school of education. As a note, Kifer played a major role in designing Kentucky’s first reform assessment, which was widely known as KIRIS. He also testified in favor of keeping a CATS-like assessment when this program’s future was being debated, and finally, mercifully ended, in 2009.
Kifer takes strong issue with King, saying King implies that the ACT test is used as the sole determinant of whether or not students needed to take remedial courses in college.
That’s just not right.
In fact, ACT scores are just the first step in the process of determining whether students will have to take a remedial course in Kentucky’s colleges. Step two happens when kids arrive on the campus. They take more placement tests to confirm if the ACT scores provide a valid picture of their true preparation. Colleges also consider a students GPA’s, according to a CPE spokesperson, before making that final placement decision.
Of course, GPA inflation is an on-going problem in Kentucky, fueled in part by pressure from the KEES Scholarship program, which can reward more money for higher GPAs. Sometimes, despite Kifer’s assertions, GPAs no longer always provide trustworthy information, either. That’s why Kentucky colleges also use the ACT to more accurately determine placement.
Anyway, Kifer’s obvious adverse reaction to the ACT test isn’t really a surprise. Kifer has gone on public record about his problems with multiple choice tests.
In his rebuttal, Kifer even attempts to undermine the ACT by citing results from a rather old UK study. This was performed years ago on ACT scores from the Class of 1993. Kifer would have us believe the ACT of today is no different from those assessments given nearly two decades ago. I suspect the ACT actually enjoyed the benefit of a lot of subsequent research during that long period of time.
Another fact seems pertinent. Two testing systems loaded with open-response heavy question formats that Kifer prefers have failed miserably in Kentucky. Those systems didn’t get our schools focused on what kids really needed. Our colleges say so, and so do industrial leaders.
And, if Kifer had just called the CPE first, he could have learned about what really happens in the college placement process.
- Gov. Steve Beshear will give his State of the Commonwealth address tonight. Let’s hope he calls for charter schools, increased transparency and accountability, spending cuts in state government, and making Kentucky a Right to Work state…I won’t hold my breath.
- Fayette County Schools superintendent Stu Silberman has announced his retirement. You can view a recent performance evaluation here. Some how that evaluation seems to lack any metrics or details.
- An Ohio woman was recently jailed for trying to send her children to a better school…wow.
Here is a Vimeo from Principal Dewey Hensley with some of his own thoughts about what is happening in this very unique school in Louisville.
Hear how Hensley worked to overcome a “culture of can’t” in this school where virtually every student is in the federal free and reduced cost lunch program and where the black/white ratio is almost equal.
No surprise here: According to The Kentucky Gazette, teachers unions topped the list of the 155 political action committees that spent $2.8 million in 2010 to elect Kentucky politicians “friendly to their cause.”
Editor Laura Cullen Glasscock combed through Kentucky Registry of Election Finance records and found that the Kentucky Educators Political Action Committee (KEPAC) — the statewide teachers union — spent more than $435,000 last year while the Better Schools Kentucky, a PAC of the Jefferson County Teachers Association “began the year with roughly $10,600 in its coffers, but raised more than a half million dollars. It spent more than $419,000 and ended the year with almost $130,000.”
Glasscock also reported that: “direct contributions to candidates tallied $134,400 for KEPAC and $27,000 for Better Schools.”
Is it any wonder that politicians “friendly” to the unions’ cause are stubbornly refusing to allow reform measures that give parents a choice, hold teachers and administrators accountable, cut wasteful spending and demand measurable results from the bureaucracy?
The second part of the 2011 session of the Kentucky General Assembly convenes tomorrow in Frankfort with the day being highlighted by Gov. Steve Beshear’s State of the Commonwealth speech at 7 p.m. EST before a joint session of the House and Senate. KET will carry the speech live.
The last day for new Senate and House bills will be Feb. 11 and 14, respectively. The final two scheduled days of the Legislature will be March 21 and 22, during which time veto overrides will be considered.