Arts Educators Concerned About Senate Bill 1

by ekramer on February 23, 2009

Kentucky lawmakers are considering a bill that would scrap the state’s student testing system, and many educators are concerned about how it would affect arts education. WFPL’s Elizabeth Kramer reports.

Senate Bill 1 would eliminate the Commonwealth Accountability Testing System or CATS, and replace it with a multiple choice test. The bill, which passed the Senate earlier this month, is now headed for the House.

Arts educators are worried that if legislators eliminate CATS — and its writing tests for the arts and humanities —  the arts will be devalued and even excluded in public schools. Kentucky Music Educators president Tanya Bromley says the answer isn’t in scraping the test, but revamping it to provide specific information.

“Those things that can be measured in terms of individual student performance should be measured and should give parents feedback and should be a part of the school accountability index just like any other core subject that’s being assessed,” Bromley says.

CATS requires students to know some arts terminology and be about to write about the arts. Educators say this bill puts arts education at risk.

“Removing the written test can have some consequences of not maintaining standards for the arts, which we do have now in Kentucky,” Bromley says. “And we still need to be working towards some sort of standards-based kind of assessment.”

The aim of the bill is to reduce the amount of student testing that takes a lot of classroom time.  

Bromley does say that the testing sytsem could be vastly improved, but doesn’t think anything that curtails arts education could benefit Kentucky.

“We think that we’ve got to train our doctors and our lawyers; we need to find our artists and nurture them through our public schools, because they’re going to be the ones that are going to record our culture for the next generation,” she says.

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