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Kansas Moving Toward New State Vision for Education

Posted Date: 11/16/2016

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Kansas has a new vision for its education. Commissioner of Education Randy Watson stressed the vision of the State Board of Education — Kansas leads the world in the success of each student — is taking the state in a bold new direction.
The State Board of Education defined a successful Kansas high school graduate as someone who has the academic and cognitive preparation, technical skills, employability skills and civic engagement to be successful in postsecondary education, in the attainment of an industry recognized certification or in the workforce, without the need for remediation. It also established five outcomes to help measure the progress of the new vision: kindergarten readiness; Individual Plans of Study focused on career interest; high school graduation rates; social-emotional growth; and postsecondary completion.
Watson gave board members an overview of the 2016 Kansas College and Career Ready Academic Assessment results. The Kansas State Department of Education realizes that assessments are an important tool to help teachers, parents and students gauge a student’s progress, Watson said. However, the board’s vision for education reduces what many have considered an overemphasis on state assessments and increases focus on the needs of the whole child. Assessment scores can help guide schools, families and students on decisions when it comes to academic instruction, but the goals of each student remain the focus of the State Board.
In 2010, KSDE adopted the Kansas College and Career Ready Standards (KCCRS). In addition to being more rigorous than any previous standards, the KCCRS emphasize the need for students not only to know the content being taught, but also to be able to demonstrate their knowledge through their ability to reason and think critically in order to craft solutions to problems. The 2014-2015 school year marked the first time Kansas students were assessed in English language arts and mathematics using the new KCCRS Assessment.
Student performance is scored using four levels. Level 1 shows a student has a limited ability to understand and use the skills and knowledge needed for college and career readiness. Level 2 shows a student has a basic ability; level 3 shows a student has an effective ability and level 4 shows a student has an excellent ability to understand and use the knowledge needed for college and career readiness.
Kansas Results in English language arts:
In 2016, 41.33 percent of all students tested met or exceeded English language arts grade-level academic expectations for college readiness. In 2015, the percentage was 42.02.

Kansas Results in Mathematics:
In 2016, 34.44 percent of all students tested met or exceeded math grade-level academic expectations for college readiness. In 2015, the percentage was 33.04.

Figures for 2015 and 2016 are based off of accountability population. Students enrolled as of Sept. 20.
While the two assessments are comparable, one variable changed from 2015 to 2016. In 2016, the state for the first time administered an adaptive assessment, meaning the assessment adapted up or down based on the student’s performance. The 2015 assessment was a fixed-form assessment, meaning every student received the same mix of test items designed to measure depth of knowledge.
The 2017 assessment will be adaptive. However, KSDE has reduced the amount of time it will take. The 2016 assessment was broken into four sessions. The 2017 test will be broken into two sessions.
“While we know assessments serve an important role in helping to determine a student’s academic readiness, we also realize that assessments are just a snapshot of a point in time,” Watson said. “Our vision of leading the world in the success of each student means we have to focus on the whole picture, from kindergarten through graduation and beyond. We are proud of Kansas’ teachers and students, and we are proud of our progress, but we still have work to do.”