CATS Task Force Meeting 5

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Summary of CATS Task Force Meeting 5

October 14, 2008


Slide from CATS Task Force Meeting

A major change in the game plan for the task force was announced at this meeting. In his opening comments, Commissioner Jon Draud announced that the findings would have to go before the State Board of Education for their approval.

In addition, Draud indicated that the committee’s work would be forwarded to the legislature in the State Board of Education’s 2009 legislative request. There was no mention of a separate report from the task force going directly to legislators, which previously had been the understood plan on the part of a number of members of the committee and the general public. In fact, prior to the day of this meeting, there had been no discussion about either a required board review or an idea that a separate report to the legislature was not the plan.

The impression that the game plan was indeed changed was reinforced by a PowerPoint paper on the task force’s activities that had been presented the same day as meeting 5 to the legislature’s Education Assessment and Accountability Review Subcommittee. The last slide in that presentation, shown to the right, clearly indicates that the Kentucky Board of Education (KBE) would review the findings and submit them as part of the legislative request. Notice that there is absolutely no mention of a separate report from the committee for the legislature.

Aside from the introductory announcement of the change in plans for reporting, very little was accomplished. Essentially, the entire four-hour-long meeting was devoted to a data-thin, opinion-bloated session about keeping the writing portfolios in the CATS assessment program. As in all previous meetings, no consensus was reached about whether to keep writing portfolios in the assessment program. Few seem inclined towards altering their existing positions to try to reach an agreement.

During one of the few informative parts of the meeting, Doris Redfield, the only testing expert on the task force, reviewed some of the public responses to the request for CATS input.

Redfield reported that among the respondents, who are mostly teachers, only 10% want to keep portfolios in the assessment. In sharp contrast, 69 percent said they should definitely be removed.

Redfield also discussed reasons why respondents wanted to pull portfolios from CATS. Perhaps the most notable reason cited by commenters was a widespread belief that the portfolios, when used for accountability, actually function as an obstacle to good writing instruction. There are also concerns about cheating, score inflation, and student demotivation towards writing.

Echoing some of Redfield’s comments, Sharron Oxendine, the president of the Kentucky Education Association, said the union surveyed teachers around the state several years ago and found virtually identical percentages in favor and against portfolios in assessment. As a consequence, Oxendine stated that union is officially against keeping portfolios in the assessment program.

Redfield also briefly discussed several research reports that question the performance of portfolios in assessment. Thus, Ms. Redfield injected some information into what was otherwise mostly just a research thin, opinion-dominated discussion. It’s too bad that some on this group don’t seem very interested in data.

Steve Stevens’ (Northern Kentucky Chamber of Commerce) requested information about the National Assessment of Educational Progress writing results. Three meetings later, that request was ignored, yet again.

As of the close of meeting five, not one recommendation had been adopted.

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