Planning for failure:

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Is the road to 2014 leading toward proficiency for all Kentucky students?

Since the early years of the Kentucky Education Reform Act of 1990 (KERA), education leaders have steadfastly proclaimed all of its students would attain academic proficiency by year end 2014. Are they on course to meet this No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) standard? Or, will Kentucky’s parents and students be forced to settle for less?

Certain schools (see Table 1) appear likely to score high enough to achieve immunity from all CATS sanctions in 2014 despite having unacceptable proficiency rates in certain subjects. In each of these schools, the rate of proficiency averaged across all the CATS tested subjects is less than 50 percent. Still, Kentucky’s testing policies will not sanction any of these schools in 2014 as long as they maintain their anemic academic performance with absolutely no improvement at all.

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Kentucky needs an accountability system that strongly encourages rigorous proficiency for all students in each subject and accurately targets real assistance – and consequences, if necessary – to schools that need them. From questions to scoring schemes, the entire CATS program must either be replaced or completely revamped to ensure minimum acceptable proficiency rates, particularly for core subjects like reading and math.

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One thing is very certain. Unchanged, the current CATS program does not guarantee anything close to universal proficiency in Kentucky’s schools when 2014 arrives. Our students deserve better.

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