Bluegrass Institute report offers ‘rest of the story’ on Ky. education testing


Monday, March 2, 2015, 11 a.m. — A new Bluegrass Institute report released today cautions state bluegrass_instituteeducation leaders nationwide not to accept cave into growing pressure triggered by Common Core State Standards to include “performance” testing ideas in their new school-assessment programs – especially if those decisions are based on mistaken notions that such approaches proved highly successful in Kentucky’s previous testing policies.

“Authorities in charge of state assessment programs deserve to know the full story about what happened when Kentucky tried – and failed – with similar approaches,” Bluegrass Institute staff education analyst Richard Innes said today in a statewide conference call with reporters and other experts.

Innes in his new report, “Selling ‘Performance’ Assessments with Inaccurate Pictures from Kentucky,” counters unsubstantiated claims increasingly made by some national researchers that the Bluegrass State had success with past attempts at incorporating performance-testing ideas into its assessment policies.



He points to a paper about “Performance Assessments: How State Policy Can Advance Assessments for 21st Century Learning” from Professor Linda Darling-Hammond of Stanford University and her co-author Ace Parsi from the National Association of State Boards of Education as a recent example of the trend.

“Parsi and Darling-Hammond speak positively about the implementation of performance assessments from Kentucky’s 1990’s Kentucky Instructional Results Information System (KIRIS) testing program,” Innes said. “But there’s more to the story. The reality of what happened with performance items for assessments in Kentucky over the past two-plus decades is not a success story.”

Innes notes that policymakers need to know that a number of “performance” assessment ideas – some of which were expensive to implement, like “Writing Portfolios,” “Math Portfolios” and “Performance Events” – actually worked very poorly as assessment tools in Kentucky while several essentially failed completely.

“Innes’ report fills an important information gap,” Bluegrass Institute Jim Waters said. “Policymakers nationwide deserve a complete picture of what happened in Kentucky so they can carefully consider if recent advances might overcome the problems Kentucky faced – and was never able to overcome – with performance-assessment items.”


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