Get Ready: The Test Scores are Coming
The results of Kentucky's new standardized tests are expected soon and district leaders along with state education officials are preparing the public for lower scores. In early October, Covington Independent Public Schools superintendent Lynda Jackson wrote:
Students across the state took the new tests in the spring. Because of the tougher standards, some students who were previously distinguished in math or reading, now may be classified as proficient and proficient students now may go down to apprentice. "Our intent in raising the standard is to help more students prepare for a competitive employment atmosphere,'' Holliday said. "Currently, we project that over 60 percent of jobs in the future will require some training beyond high school. This means that students must be better prepared for college-level work and career-entry requirements.''
Many groups, including the Prichard Committee and the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce, have been preparing the public for low test scores as part of the ReadyKentucky initiative. The Prichard Committee initiated and partnered with the Chamber on the formation of theBusiness Leader Champions for Education. This group is supporting the new standards and helping spread the word that we must stay the course and keep them in place, even if our test scores are lower than those we've seen in the past. Kentucky Education Commissioner Terry Holliday is also warning the public that the scores will be lower than what people are accustomed to seeing. There are several reasons for this possibility: the standards set higher expectations and require harder work, and Kentucky's grading system for schools has moved from a scale of 140 to a scale of 100. Even with nothing else involved, that change would result in scores that appear to be lower.
Why is so much effort going into preparing the public for lower test scores? One of the Prichard Committee board members, Franklin Jelsma, offered the analogy of what someone experiences when beginning to exercise at a gym. "When one first starts exercising he or she gets sore and it can be painful, but if the person sticks to it and continues the work, the rewards are great in the end." There may be some pain when these initial scores are released, but I believe in the end we will see higher student achievement. Teachers and students need a period of adjustment to the new standards before we will see these increases. It is our hope that we will endure the initial pain and come out stronger.
In many ways it would have been much better for Kentucky to spend more time preparing teachers before the assessments were given. But, on the up side, we will soon have this first round behind us with new baseline data and new goals for the future.
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