Tuesday, February 17, 2009

The death of the CATS test

Like other felines, CATS seems to have had nine lives. Since 1992, when the KIRIS tests made their debut, the testing system has proved the most controversial aspect of Kentucky's education reform. Time after time the test has taken hits for its inaccuracy, unreliability, unmanagability--not to mention its sheer intrusiveness in the education process.

If you want to know what it has been like for those of us who have tried to stop the nonsense all these years, just watch the scene in Star Wars where they try to attack the Death Star: the thing is just so big and seemingly invulnerable that every shot just bounces off.

I'd love to say that those of us in the Rebellion delivered the final blow to the thing by finding a vent somewhere where we used the Force and got it down the right hole, but in reality what has happened with the test is that it just plain petered out.

Was it Thomas Kuhn who said that intellectual revolutions come about not because one theory is refuted by another, but because the advocates of the reigning theory simply die off?

That may, in fact, be the situation with the CATS tests: those who swore the blood oath in 1990 to defend every aspect of the reform act to the death just faded away. How many legislators who actually voted for KERA are left? And isn't it an irony that one of the few left is the one who is bringing the test down?

This is the way the test ends:
This is the way the test ends:
This is the way the test ends:
Not with a bang, but with a whimper.

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