Saturday, March 8, 2008

The Enemy of the Good

CATS or ACTs? That is a perplexing question for study in Frankfort, and it involves more than simply rearranging the letters.

Yesterday the Senate approved "a controversial bill" (as the Courier-Journal calls it) to replace CATS -- the Commonwealth Accountability Testing System, used for student testing only in Kentucky -- with national testing developed by ACT Inc. Many Democrats are against the bill, but we can think of no good reason why they should be.

It should not be controversial that national testing is the best way to assess the performance of Kentucky students in relation to their counterparts in other states. It allows for the proverbial apples-to-apples comparison.

Moreover, anyone who has suffered through the Word versus Word Perfect debate knows the rebuttal to the argument made by proponents of CATS, who claim it is a better testing method than ACT. We all know that Word Perfect is better than Word, but because Microsoft did a better job of marketing to (or monopolizing, some one say) the market, most businesses today use Word instead of Word Perfect. It allows for compatibility, which is a form of goodness, a greater virtue than perfection.

So the answer to the question posed above is this: It doesn't matter whether CATS is better than ACT, or vice versa. ACT is the national standard, so for better or worse, it is a better way than CATS to learn whether Kentucky measures up to other states.

No comments: