FRANKFORT – Flanked by members of the House and Senate, Gov. Steve Beshear signed into law Thursday a bill that will overhaul the state’s educational testing system.
The Commonwealth Accountability Testing System, or CATS, which has been used as a tool to measure the performance of Kentucky schools for more than a decade, will begin to be phased out almost immediately.
Beshear, during a signing ceremony in the state capitol, said it was time to update the nearly 20-year-old Kentucky Education Reform Act. “KERA was never meant to be a one-time fix,” Beshear said.
Senate Bill 1 also orders a new testing schedule for the 2011-2012 academic year and requires school officials to better prepare students for college. Student writing portfolios – long a source of contention for teachers and students alike — will no longer be counted toward student assessment.
The new testing system will no longer require students to be tested in arts, humanities, practical living skills or career studies. The amount of time that students spend taking tests will also drop over the next several years. Currently, testing takes 10 days. By 2012 testing time will only be five days.
Within 30 days of enactment of the legislation, university leaders must start meeting with state educators in an effort to reduce the high rate of Kentucky students who must take remedial courses in college.
Senate Republicans have long been critical of CATS, calling it an ineffective way to measure student or school achievement.
— Beth Musgrave