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CATS test to be shortened to 5 days

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By Phyllis McLaughlin

The Trimble Banner

Students in Trimble County can breathe a little easier at the end of the 2009-10 school year.

That’s when new rules go into affect reducing the scope of  the Commonwealth Accountability Testing System.

The Kentucky Legis-lature voted last month to alter the 20-year-old program, reducing the number of days students are tested from 10 to five by 2011-12. Also, writing portfolios will no longer be counted toward a student’s grade.

“The changes were sort of a shock,” said Becky Moore, who oversees federal programs and instructional services for the Trimble County School District. “So, we are sort of excited about the transition in some ways, but we don’t know what to anticipate with all the program revisions or what it means for the students and the schools.”

For teachers, it will be somewhat confusing at first, Moore said. “How much emphasis do they put on the test” in the classroom?

Standards for each of the core contents – reading, math, on-demand writing, science and social studies – are to be revamped by the state by December 2010, Moore said. But, parents and the public will continue to receive reports on

test test scores and the schools’ progress.

Testing days will be reduced to seven in the 2009-10 school year, six in 2010-11 and five in 2011-12.

State Rep. Rick Rand, D-47th District, said the state Senate had proposed a bill that would eliminate CATS altogether. The House disagreed, and the new version was approved during this past legislative session.

CATS “served its purpose” in it’s previous version, Rand said. The revision is “a huge accomplishment.”

Rand said when his son, Beau, was applying for college, he was surprised that colleges and universities weren’t interested in Beau’s CATS scores or writing portfolio.

“I loved portfolios, because my children both liked to write,” he said. “But at the same time, colleges didn’t ask about CATS or portfolios – not even state schools. They wanted his ACT score, his grade-point average and community service activities.”

Moore said she hopes the testing will follow individual students’ progression, rather than how each class progresses. “That’s one of the things educators have had a difficult time with on the test.”