Education
6:35 am
Sun October 6, 2013

Public Opposition to Kentucky's New Education Science Standards Delays Process for Creating Tests

Credit Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons: University of Pittsburgh at Bradford

Public opposition to Kentucky's new science standards has delayed the process for creating student tests tailored to the new material, a state education official says.

The Kentucky Department of Education now plans to delay testing (or assessments) on the Next Generation Science Standards until 2016, at least,  the official says.

The Next Generation Science Standards update what students should learn in the subject based on new research. But the standards were criticized for both content and religious reasons during public comment this year. 

Gov. Steve Beshear says he will use his power to implement the standards despite being rejected by a small legislative committee last month.

But education officials say that opposition has delayed the process for creating tests to measure the standards.

“You need from 18 to 24 months [to create an assessment]. You have to go through a long process of writing items, determining which standards you’re going to write to,” says Ken Draut, director of assessment and accountability for the Kentucky Education Department.

But the delay for the testing won’t delay next year's implementation of the new standards in the classroom, Draut says.

“What you like to have is everything lined up so you’re teaching the standards as well as assessing them. So we’ll have one year of awareness where schools will be piloting the assessment and we’ll have to find out exactly what the assessment will look like in the spring of 2014," he says.

Dick Innes has criticized of the Next Generation Science. Delaying the assessment of the standards will also, in a way, delay implementation, argues Innes, who studies education policy for the conservative-leaning Bluegrass Institute.

“Teachers in the state generally tend to teach to the assessment and by delaying the Next Generation Science Standards based test until 2016, we’re going to keep those old tests around for a couple more years. If you were a teacher in the classroom and you were being judged on this thing, which test are you going to teach to?” he says.

UPDATE: Oct. 7, 1 pm: KDE officials say it's inaccurate to say the science standards assessment have been delayed due to controversy surrounding the standards. Draut did say KDE  "wanted to wait until we had word that the standards had been approved and that came out in September when the Governor made his comment that he’ll support the standards. So that starts our clock on the assessment.” 

Below is KDE's follow up response to the story:

Our original timetable was aggressive. Based on the mandates of Senate Bill 1 we wanted to fully implement and test as soon as possible.But because of a delay in when the standards were released and subsequently in the approval and regulatory process, we were not able to stay on schedule for the assessment portion of the standards since it takes 18 to 24 months to develop tests that are aligned.