Ky. Officials Propose Expanding New Testing System to All Grades

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A month after agreeing to a $29.5-million contract to develop Kentucky's new assessment system, state officials have proposed expanding it into an $80-million program.

Kentucky's 1990 education-reform law, which called for the new assessment system, mandated that the state test every student in grades 4, 8, and 12 every other year. The results of the tests, which eventually will be completely performance-based, will be used to determine rewards and sanctions for schools. ('See Education Week, May 8, 1991.)

The state board of education in July selected Advanced Systems in Measurement and Evaluation Inc., a small New Hampshire-based firm, to develop the new system.

The 1990 law also provides that districts administer tests in the intervening years, which officials say will serve as "scrimmages" for the "Super Bowl" state tests.

But in a meeting with lawmakers last month, Commissioner of Education Thomas C. Boysen proposed that the state fund the annual tests in all grades. Such an expansion would cost an additional $10 million per year.

Jim Parks, a spokesman for Mr. Boysen, said the expanded program would be a "service" to districts that would help ensure that students are prepared for the assessments that count.

"A testing program that tests in three grades every two years is really not going to give the feedback teachers, parents, and school councils need to have," he said.

Although many districts would have developed such interim assessments on their own, Mr. Parks added, a state program would be more likely to be "compatible" with state curricular goals.

"You run the risk of getting uneven quality programs in 170 districts," he said. "It makes a good deal of logic to say, if local districts are going to [administer tests] anyway, this is a service the state ought to be providing.'"

A key lawmaker, however, appeared skeptical of the plan and said he wanted to meet with Mr. Boysen to discuss the details. The legislature is expected to consider the proposal early next year.

"I felt our commitment had to be to funding the portions of the reform act that were due to come on line, before we start expanding programs," said Senator Michael R. Moloney, chairman of the Senate appropriations and revenue committee.--R.R.

Vol. 11, Issue 01, Page 33

Published in Print: September 4, 1991, as Ky. Officials Propose Expanding New Testing System to All Grades
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