New test for high schoolers sparks controversy

By: Sean Evans Email
By: Sean Evans Email

Hart County Schools Superintendent Ricky Line says he's concerned about a new test Kentucky high schoolers will be required to take next year.

"We want our kids ready for college and career. I just have a little trouble believing that evolution is a fact, I have a lot of trouble believing that evolution is the fact that we need to base our science upon," said Line.

He's talking about an end-of-course test for biology. It will be one of several tests given to students to test their knowledge of the curriculum.

He says, "The proposed standards and accompanying End-of-Course exam would require many science teachers to sacrifice their values merely so that students can pass the test and course. Both high school and district's rank would also be determined by these scores, further forcing the teaching of macroevolution. In the Blueprint, evolution is not referenced as a theory, thus further implying that macroevolution is a fact."

His concern was addressed by state education commissioner Terry Holliday. This is part of that response.

"Evolutionary theory is one of the foundational components of modern biology, and it most certainly plays a significant part in college biology coursework."

He goes on to say "Since college and career readiness is our goal for all students, we would be doing them a disservice by denying them the opportunity to learn science concepts required to obtain that goal."

One top official in the sciences at UK agrees.

"In a country that is losing ground against the rest of the world in technological and scientific literacy, so we really have to do something and this is a good first step," said Chairman of the Department of Biology at UK, Vincent M. Cassone.

Members of the church community say they aren't opposed to the theory of evolution being taught, saying it could inspire other conversation with students.

"When they come home it presents itself for a great learning time of discussion about the Bible and about creation," said Pastor Tommy Simpson.

Superintendent Line says he has yet to respond to the statements issued by Commissioner Holliday.

The state Department of Education tells us "the biology end-of-course examination Blueprint is a document that serves as a resource to public school teachers. The document describes the standards on which students will be assessed in the biology end-of-course exam and provides a scoring guide for the test. Teachers are not required to utilize this document. It is provided to help teachers design their own curriculum for biology."

"End-of-course exams in Biology, Algebra II, English II and U.S. History were enabled by 2009’s Senate Bill 1. Kentucky contracted with ACT, Inc. to provide EOC exams for the state’s public high schools during the 2011-12 school year."

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