(KCPW News) Though some lawmakers were concerned about passing an education bill during the special session, one bill still gained the legislature's approval on Friday. Lawmakers approved a pilot program for a new computer-based standardized test. Senator Howard Stephenson says the pilot is a necessary step to bring the state's standardized testing program, UPASS up to date.
"I'm tired of our education system existing in the 19th Century. We simply have to begin to move our schools into the 21st Century. To give the results of these tests immediately to the students, to the teachers and to their parents," Stephenson says.
The new testing program would replace several paper-based standardized tests with one multi-purpose computer adaptive test. The high-tech tests generate immediate results and can more accurately pinpoint students' problem areas.
The proposal came out of the governor's Blue Ribbon Panel on Assessment. The panel held several public meetings earlier this summer throughout the state. However, the special session significantly abbreviated the bill's public vetting process. This did not sit well with Senator Bill Hickman.
"I'm very concerned when we get separate pieces of legislation that all of a sudden surface when, in fact, we're not prepared or have had a chance to look at them prior to coming on the floor. I have not seen this bill nor have I heard anything about it until we came on the floor this morning," Hickman says. "I don't think that's the proper way to do business."
The test's future now hinges on a decision by the U.S. Department of Education. State Superintendent Patti Harrington plans to ask for a waiver from the No Child Left Behind assessment requirements for up to 10 school districts and charter schools participating in the pilot.