Burkich still believes that schools should be held accountable to the legislature and taxpayers. But he wouldn't mind if Kentucky could stick for a while with one system of accountability - the testing that measures the quality of teaching and learning in the schools.
"This is my 30th year, and over the last 30 years, accountability has had about six major changes," Burkich said.
As Senate Bill 1 brought CATS to its sudden end, the new law established a three-year interim period in which there will be no state system of accountability.
In the meantime, the Kentucky Department of Education must develop and recommend to the Kentucky Board of Education a new state assessment system to take effect in the 2011-2012 school year. The focus will be on the individual student's progress, not on a school's achievement.
But school officials in Danville and Boyle County say they will continue to assess both their students and their schools so they can determine how well both are achieving.
"We are still going to hold our schools accountable," said Renee Yates, math coach and curriculum resource teacher at Junction City Elementary School.
Yates is president of Boyle County's chapter of the Kentucky Education Association, the teachers' organization, and she is on KEA's state board of directors.
In the three-year interim period, the major changes will be these:
* The state administers tests in reading, math, science, social studies and writing on demand (a timed writing test), and the results will be reported to the public, so that it will be known whether a student is at the novice, apprentice, proficient or distinguished level. But the state will not use results to measure the school's accountability. Meanwhile, state testing will be eliminated in arts/humanities, practical living/vocational studies, the writing portfolio, and a norm-referenced test in reading and math. But those four areas will undergo "program review" in 2009-2010 and 2010-2011, although it is not clear what the process will be and will mean.
* Districts that already have set testing dates for this month and May will not have to change them. Within the 14-day "test window" at the end of the school year, schools and districts will choose seven days for testing and three extra days for makeups.
* Under the new state assessment system that takes effect in 2011-2012, testing in reading, math, science and social studies will use exams - yet to be developed - that use a combination of criterion-referenced tests that measure student proficiency on core content and allow for a comparison of schools' performances within the state; and norm-referenced tests, like the ACT, that allow for students to be compared with others students nationwide.
* Schools and districts that receive federal Title I funds because they are in high-poverty areas will be held accountable under the requirements of the federal No Child Left Behind program.
Not everyone likes the changes, but even some staunch defenders of KERA saw virtue in Senate Bill 1, but not the way it took effect so abruptly.
"I think it's a good bill for the long haul, and I hate what it does for the transition," said Susan Weston of Danville, a lawyer and former executive director of the Kentucky Association of School Councils who writes a blog for a leader in the state's school reform movement, the Prichard Committee for Academic Excellence.
In legislative sessions of recent years, there was obvious disenchantment with CATS, and some even wondered if KERA would be abolished in its entirety.
But KERA adherents like Weston consider this winter's outcome a victory in the long run.
"The deep KERA effect is that people are addicted to the notion of accountability and want to push things," Weston said.