– May not mean what you think!
– Do we want schools to test political opinions?
House Bill 508, the Kentucky House’s alternative to Senate Bill 1 to change our CATS assessments, requires the Kentucky Department of Education to consider international benchmarks when it revises the state’s public school education standards and tests.
That sounds like a good idea – after all, our kids now must be prepared to compete not just against kids in Ohio and Tennessee, but also against kids in China, India, Japan, and a host of other rapidly advancing countries.
But, beware – without more details, the term “International Benchmarks” carries hidden baggage, and the Brookings Institution just blew this deceptive issue wide open.
Page 4 in the Brookings report discusses highly questionable testing philosophies found in the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) tests, saying,
PISA asks students whether they support several environmental policies and then creates an index of “responsibility for sustainable development” from the responses. Responses in favor of the policies are responsible; those opposed are not. That kind of questioning is inappropriate on a science assessment. Without serious reform, PISA is inappropriate for benchmarking. (Emphasis Added)
Clearly, we don’t want Kentucky tests evaluating the attitudes and political beliefs our kids.
I seriously doubt that anyone – including even the Prichard Committee, which has directly called for international benchmarks – intends to create a test that does what the PISA tests do.
But, a lack of knowledge can lead to bad consequences. So, the people working on our CATS legislation need to be quite specific about exactly what part of the international community’s benchmarks we intend to emulate. Some of those international standards are completely unacceptable in a free society.