Kentucky delegate to the Republican National Convention Steve Manning has this little detail from the party’s own platform:
Nice catch, Steve. Thanks!
The Bluegrass Institute hears from our army of critics that all we ever do is complain. The word “solutions” is part of your name, they say, but you mostly just gripe about what you don’t like and attack, attack, attack.
While we see promotion of ideas like government spending transparency, public employee benefits reform, education reform, healthcare reform, and better labor policies as positive steps the state could — but won’t — take, we will admit to sounding — and feeling — like grouchy old bears sometimes.
But the evidence (click this link) keeps telling us we are right. In a sense, reality keeps feeding the bears.
“If Frankfort’s policymakers want to see that change, they can.”
“They could begin by heeding the advice of Arthur Laffer, a member of President Ronald Reagan’s Economic Policy Advisory Board, who wrote in the foreword of the “Economic Freedom Index” that higher migration rates for economically free states “confirms that states that cut their marginal tax rates, enact right-to-work legislation, and limit frivolous jury awards see an influx of capital, people and businesses.”
At the Institute, we see our role as that of a family member doing an intervention. Until we can get the people who control our state to see the error of their ways, we can’t stop trying. We love them, and the state we share, too much. Attacking us personally, as our ideological opponents seem to really enjoy doing, just tells us we are doing it right.
The kids either get low grades or wind up in an algebra-in-name-only sham.
Before the presidential race and the nationalization of the banking industry distracted from the fact that we weren’t supposed to be talking about rising state revenues in Kentucky, Gov. Steve Beshear was talking about raising cigarette taxes.
In Frankfort earlier this year, some lawmakers were talking about the evils of Mountain Dew. Might taxing that evil brew be part of Beshear’s next tax-raising scheme?
The Herald-Leader posted “Kentucky middle schools struggle to keep pace” today with a disappointing analysis of the recent CATS testing.
The title of the piece – assuming CATS scores were credible – is off target. Actually, the CATS shows the state’s high schools are doing notably worse than the middle schools. But, you have to read down 13 paragraphs before you learn that from this article.
The Herald-Leader claims the statewide CATS elementary school math score was 97. Actually, according to the statewide Kentucky Performance Report (available by clicking on the KPR Report link on this page), it was 96.9, rounded to the same level as the reported middle school score in the newspaper of 84.5. But, the true middle school score statewide was really 85.0, which is a larger rounding error.
Still, the really big problem concerns high schools. The high school math score was only 67.7 in that same Kentucky Performance Report (somehow the Herald-Leader reports it as 67.4), which certainly blows a hole in the Herald-Leader’s headline’s implication that middle schools have the major problems. If you trust CATS, middle school performance is far closer to the elementary school performance than the high schools are to the middle schools.
Of course, the credibility of all the CATS “stuff” starts to fall apart if you look at other recent test results from the federally operated National Assessment of Educational Progress. In the national assessment, Kentucky’s middle school performance isn’t much different from the elementary schools, and both do a whole lot worse than CATS shows.
For example, in 2007 Kentucky’s NAEP proficiency rates for math were 31 percent for our fourth graders, which was 8 points below the national average. The NAEP showed math proficiency of 27 percent for our eighth graders, however, which was 4 points behind the national average. The proficiency spread from grade four to grade eight was only 4 points.
Now, consider what the CATS showed. The CATS in 2007 reported math proficiency rates of 60 percent for fourth graders and 49 percent for our eighth graders, clearly a claim of much better performance for both school levels than NAEP showed with and a much larger proficiency rate spread of 11 points between elementary and middle schools.
Anyway, I wonder who at the Herald-Leader has an axe to grind against the middle schools?
And, why does the Herald-Leader trust CATS to tell us about our school problems?
As mentioned in our previous post about the Kentucky Department of Education’s “CATS Task Force,” the following call for input has been issued. It contains contact and mail address information for you to submit your comments and concerns about CATS to the task force.
Parents in particular can supply some important information that isn’t specifically listed below. If your child got CATS scores that differ greatly from his or her school grades or performance on other tests like the EXPLORE, PLAN, and ACT tests, the task force needs to hear about this. We at the Bluegrass Institute would also appreciate hearing from you about these examples of questionable CATS scoring. My personal example, which occurred years ago under the old KIRIS assessment, involves our daughter’s outstanding writing performance versus the scores she got from the state assessment program. She won the PTA’s statewide writing contest as a ninth grader and had outstanding grades in English but only got an “Apprentice” score from the state’s writing assessment. Clearly, something wasn’t right, and it wasn’t with her grades, as her extremely high ACT score in English and her success in college later proved.
KDE Release Follows:
INPUT SOUGHT FOR ASSESSMENT/ACCOUNTABILITY TASK FORCE
News Advisory 08-077 – September 22, 2008
(FRANKFORT, Ky.) – The members of the Task Force on Assessment and Accountability have issued a call for input from teachers, administrators, parents, businesspeople, elected officials, education advocacy groups and others who are interested in the state’s public school testing and accountability system.
The task force is focusing on a number of areas, including:
• on-demand writing/writing portfolios
• arts & humanities and practical living/vocational studies
• minor changes to the assessment system, including national comparisons, alternate assessments and the Kentucky Core Content Tests
assessments of student learning
standards (narrowing of curriculum)
longitudinal testing models
individual student focus
analysis of Educational Planning and Assessment System (EPAS) technical programs
balance of student/school accountability
timeliness of results
Written comments on those areas (or others) are requested. Those may be sent to Lisa Gross, director of the Division of Communications, 6th Floor, 500 Mero St., Frankfort KY 40601; e-mail email@example.com; fax (502) 564-3049.
The task force is charged with reviewing the Commonwealth Accountability Testing System (CATS) and providing a blueprint for the system’s progress in the future to ensure that the system meets the best interests of public school students. Members of the group include policymakers and experts in the field.
Education Commissioner Jon E. Draud asked statewide organizations, partner groups and leaders of the Kentucky Senate and House of Representatives to name members to the task force. The group will analyze individual components of CATS and determine the effectiveness of those in meeting the needs of students.
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