Thursday, March 12, 2009

Testing: conference committee looking for off-the-shelf option

SB 1 is now in a conference committee as House and Senate try to reconcile their two different versions of the bill. The CJ has posted an account of where they're struggling:

House members prefer to let the department continue using the current test during the interim to test the subject areas of science, math, reading and social studies.

The test would be used to meet federal No Child Left Behind standards but not for state accountability purposes.

The Senate wants the department to use a national off-the-shelf test so officials can begin tracking individual student progress, something the current test does not allow.

Department of Education officials said this afternoon that they were going to research how much more an off-the-shelf test would cost compared to the current test; whether there is an off-the-shelf test that matches Kentucky’s existing education standards; and whether officials would have enough time to get a new interim test approved by the federal government.

The NCLB requirement is that we use a test that is aligned with our standards for content and for level of achievement. We checked ACT two years ago and found weak alignment. We checked TerraNova some years ago, and found weakness there, too--though that be worth checking again given our Core Content revisions. Crucially, good alignment studies take weeks, not hours--but KDE is being given only hours to reply.

(Nationally, only Iowa uses just an off-the-shelf norm-referenced test to meet NCLB requirements and only twelve states use just multiple choice questions. Most states use a customized test or an NRT augmented with customized questions.)

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Updates and data on Kentucky education!