As I wrote back on February 1, 2011, this story started with an Op-Ed titled “Time to Raise Expectations for Education,” from Bob King, the President of the Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education (CPE).
Dr. King’s article was mainly meant to introduce parents and general Kentucky citizens to the CPE’s “High School Feedback Reports,” and to discuss how the current school curriculum isn’t aligned to college and workplace needs. Dr. King also encourages support for higher standards and takes a shot at adults in the public school system who tend to protect themselves first before looking to the needs of their students.
Overall, it was a good message, but it naturally raised the ire of those who have pushed the status quo, who don’t like to admit to problems with our current assessment system, and who therefore don’t like the message contained in the feedback reports and other indicators like ACT test results.
A reaction to King’s article was indeed penned by Skip Kifer, a retired professor from UK’s school of education. Kifer played a major role in designing Kentucky’s first reform assessment – widely known as “KIRIS.” He also testified in favor of keeping a CATS-like assessment when this program’s future was being debated, and mercifully ended, in 2009.
Kifer took strong issue with King, saying King implies that the ACT test is used as the sole determinant of whether or not students needed to take remedial courses in college.
Actually, it was Kifer’s implication that was wrong. That may have left a lot of Herald-Leader readers with the wrong idea about how our colleges actually determine the need for remedial courses.
Dr. King now sets the record straight in a new letter published yesterday by the Herald-Leader.
King wrote this second letter so that citizens of the commonwealth are not left with the wrong idea about how the public colleges and universities in Kentucky determine if a student needs to take remedial courses.
As I wrote earlier and King reconfirms, ACT scores are just the first step in the process of determining whether students will have to take a remedial course in Kentucky’s colleges. Says King, colleges also consider a students entire record, including GPA’s, extracurricular activities and other placement exams before making such decisions.
So, the basic thrust of Kifer’s post is wrong. Had Kifer done even minimal research by calling the CPE before spouting off, he could have learned how the college course placement process really works.
Hopefully, anyone who got confused by Kifer’s incorrect assertions will read Dr. King’s latest comments in the Herald-Leader. Our young adults deserve to know that things are not stacked against them as they enter college. If they do get placed in remedial courses, it is only because there is good indication in their entire set of records and test results that they really need the extra help.
And, parents need to know that there is value in the testing information they receive from the EXPLORE, PLAN and ACT test scores they now get from our public schools.
Certainly, no test is perfect, and students can have a ‘bad day.’ But, ignoring those test results is ignoring a not perfect, but pretty good, warning signal. That could leave a student exposed for major problems later. Dr. King doesn’t want students and parents to make that mistake, and neither do I.