The report caught my attention right away. A few days ago the Southern Regional Education Board (SREB) released a new report, “Keeping Middle Grades Students on the Path to Success in High School.” The new report discusses the proper place to set state test standards, a subject that I have discussed for Kentucky in a number of articles and papers such as here and here.
SREB uses results from the National Assessment of Educational Progress as a guide to measure the rigor in southern area states’ school assessments. Some of my analyses have done the same.
There’s only one problem – the SREB findings don’t square with what we know in Kentucky.
Back in March, we threw out our CATS assessments for cause. After considering lots of evidence, our legislators told the Kentucky Department of Education to review and update all of our education standards and then revise our tests. The legislature directed this because it was obvious the CATS tests were not properly aimed. For example, this graph from the Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education shows 45 percent of recent high school graduates in Kentucky need at least one remedial course upon college entry. Clearly, we are not producing the caliber of high school graduates we need.
We know that our schools and students have to strive a lot harder.
But, never mind what we know. Table 8 in the new SREB report declares our now defunct CATS standards and the feel good scores they produced – at least in eighth grade – were, “set about RIGHT.”
I sent some of my research to the SREB folks, and I hope they take a careful look at the material. Kentucky’s experience shows SREB is shooting too low with their appraisals of state standards. Hopefully, I can help them recalibrate their sights.