We’ve known for some time that scores in Kentucky’s CATS school assessments have been getting more and more inflated every year. In fact, Reason #3 in one of our earliest publications shows the inflation started right at the beginning in 1999 during the change from the old KIRIS assessment to CATS.
Ever since, Bluegrass Institute comparisons of CATS to better quality testing data show more inflation occurring every year. For example, our comparison of CATS to the National Assessment of Educational Progress last year makes a strong case that CATS scoring was much easier in 2007 than it was in 1999.
Now, there is even evidence of CATS inflation yet to come, and this evidence comes from a surprising source – the Kentucky Department of Education.
On page 13 in the Briefing Packet for the 2008 CATS, a table titled “Accountability Index Ranges by School Level” shows that after an inflation-hiding correction was made (using those extremely controversial “Concordance Tables”), only 90 elementary schools got CATS scores of 100 or more in the official 2008 results. However, the table right below, which shows “Nonadjusted” scores, indicates that many more elementary schools, 162 of them, scored 100 or more before the inflation-hiding correction was applied.
So, stand by for more inflation in CATS. Next year, only the new and inflated nonadjusted scores are going to be used. Next year, all those schools that got lowered scores due to the inflation-hiding concordance tables won’t have that penalty to worry about. They will get the full benefit from the CATS’ ever more watered down scoring, and all 162 will be presented to us as magically reaching the score of 100 – the end goal for CATS in 2014.
So, get ready for CATS to show a remarkable 80% jump in just one year in the number of schools reaching the end goal target score. These schools won’t be much, if any better – they will just be made to look better.