The Kentucky Board of Education looked over the new CATS results early this week, but they shouldn’t have wasted their time. With the new scores release, it is now painfully evident that this testing program is hopelessly inflated.
I took a look at the latest scores and compared them to what would have been predicted if what was “Proficient” on state assessments had stayed constant. The results were disappointing, to say the least.
For elementary schools, the latest School Accountability Index is 14.3 points higher than the original scoring scales from the early to mid-1990s would have predicted.
Things were MUCH worse in middle school CATS, however, where the discrepancy was an incredible 29.6 points. Instead of getting the 86.8 Accountability Index in 2008 that was just reported to the board, the middle schools would have only gotten a 57.2 if Kentucky’s scoring scales had not been inflated over the years.
The inflationary trend in middle school Accountability Index results is unmistakable, as this graph shows. Notice that after the fourth year of KIRIS testing in 1994-95 (the dark blue line), middle school progress under KIRIS almost vanished, but it was “resurrected” when the scoring scales were revised (and grossly inflated) when CATS came in (the light blue line), and it got more “bonus points” in 2006-07 when CATS scoring changed again (the red line).
Only the high school scoring has stayed fairly consistent with the original meaning of “Proficiency” as it was defined when KERA got started.
With only small proportions of our eighth graders getting reasonable scores on the ACT’s EXPLORE test, and with the National Assessment of Educational Progress now generally reporting proficiency rates around half those reported in CATS, it is clear that Kentucky isn’t getting an accurate picture of public school performance from its bloated state assessment. Clearly, it is time to move on to something more informative before the Chinese and the Indians academically eat our kids alive.
To see an Excel spreadsheet with the data I examined, click here.