Monday, May 11, 2009

Transition accountability: Murray Independent

The Murray Ledger & Times reports on how local schools will address SB 1's testing changes:
Bob Rogers, MISD superintendent, said the accountability measure of students will continue through instruction, assessment, and reporting in the non-tested Commonwealth Accountability Testing System (CATS) areas. “The Murray Independent School District is not changing. We will continue to assess writing, arts and humanities and practical living vocational studies,” he said. “After meeting with our teachers and administrators, it was a unanimous decision to continue our teaching and assessment in these content areas and to report the results.”

Rogers said after meeting with their administrators it was an undivided “yes” vote that all these areas remain and nothing changes. “We also implemented our procedure to continue the assessments and report the results to the parents and citizens,” he said. “We will continue our focus of using the data for making effective decisions concerning school policies, programs and curricula.”
The full article is here, with hat tip to KSBA's great headline service here.


  1. I need some clarification from anyone that might be seeing the above district’s decision as positive. I have heard throughout my many years of teaching art in KY that we are lucky that the arts are included in the state testing because it shows that we are important. I was also reminded (when students were pulled from my class for other things) that the arts ONLY counted 4.75% of the accountability score. I have never thought that, on average, 4 questions on a test adequately measured my students’ true knowledge levels in art or my ability to teach the content. My students’ knowledge comes from application. You truly understand what an “abstract portrait using geometric shapes in complementary colors” is when you go through the steps to create one. Even the state seemed to figure out that there are some schools where students never create art because they are being taught by regular ed teachers with no real knowledge in art, and more time is being placed on paper\pencil vocabulary tests in an attempt to “prepare” students for the real test with no time to actually create anything.
    So…how is it a positive thing when a school district decides that, in spite of the fact that the state has found the A&H test to no longer be a valid way to assess our students, they are going to do it anyway and report the results? Is this not just perpetuation the problem? Will these districts hang on to these invalid forms of assessments in the arts to simply have a number to put in the newspaper? Will the program reviews improve these issues or will school districts still be allowed to continue their old ways of not given students opportunities to truly learn through the arts. Where does this leave our KY students’ abilities to create, perform and respond in the arts?

  2. Thank you for writing and sharing your perspective on the hazards we face.

    Here's my pecking order of options.

    1. Good program reviews are the best idea I've heard. I hope that's what's coming in 2011. The good is that our pencil-and-paper test was skipping the creation and performance in favor of information, and the information got way to close to a vocabulary quiz.

    2. CATS testing is second best, with a long drop.

    3. Bad, lame, underfunded program reviews would be a lot worse than CATS, because it would be so easy to cut arts staff and arts resources. I'm worried that we'll get that if we don't push hard for strong standards and serious monitoring.

    4. Worst of all is no arts accountability at all--which is what SB 1 gave us for the next three years. That decision has folks around the state talking casually about arts being the right place to cut as budgets get tight.

    In a context where the legislature offers us option 4, I do think it's a plus to see Murray make a local commitment to option 2.

  3. Thank you for this perspective. I agree with you and applaud the school districts that make a commitment to option 2 as they are trying to continue accountability during this transition time. Does anyone have any suggestions for how we "push hard for strong standards and serious monitoring" as we move toward program reviews? I'm ready to jump on the bandwagon!

  4. Fannie Louise MadduxMay 13, 2009 at 10:00 AM

    Our school district, Christian County, has also indicated its intention to use the CATS tests and an index that will continue to hold schools accountable during the 3 year interim. Many educators with whom I have talked have been horrified at the turn of events. Many have said that so much hard work has been done by teachers and students alike and it appears to be devalued now. Modifications could have been made without "throwing out the baby with the bath water!" I am very concerned about what will be developed for use after the 3 year interim. Will we only be interested in getting the cheapest test available with no assurance of high standards? Mr. Duncan, Secretary of Education, is pushing for national/international standards. That would mean building curriculum and assessments and doing it well. Would Kentucky opt to join that effort? It is something we should certainly be thinking about!


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