Testing in Kansas: An Overview
A GreatSchools guide to standardized tests
By GreatSchools Staff
Although test results are only one measure of student achievement, they have become increasingly important in assessing student learning. In 2007-2008 Kansas used the Kansas State Assessments (KSA) to test students in grades 3 though 8 and 11 in reading and math; in grades 4, 7 and 11 in science; and in grades 6, 8 and 11 in history-government. The KSA is a standards-based test, which means it measures whether students are mastering the specific skills defined for each grade by the state of Kansas.
How are the tests scored?
KSA results show the level of proficiency a student demonstrates in each of the subject areas tested. Scores are based on five performance levels: academic warning, approaches standard, meets standard, exceeds standard or exemplary. The goal is for all students to score at or above the state standard.
Which results are included on GreatSchools profiles?
For each subject on the test, the combined percentage of students scoring at levels of meets standard, exceeds standard or exemplary is displayed.
GreatSchools also displays subgroup results to show how different groups of students are scoring in comparison to the overall student population in a given grade and subject. The subgroups are identified by the Kansas Department of Education; if there are fewer than 10 students in a particular group in a school, data is not reported for that group.
Why do the tests matter?
Kansas test results provide an indication of whether students are making progress toward mastery of state content standards. Although Kansas schools do not use test results alone to make decisions regarding grade-level promotion or retention, low scores are one factor that might suggest the need for additional assistance. Schools have the option of requiring students with very low reading scores to attend a summer instruction program.
KSA scores are important to schools because they are considered during school accreditation reviews. In addition, a school's performance on the assessments determines whether it will be designated as one of Kansas' "Standards of Excellence" schools.
It is important to be aware of both your child's score on the assessments and the overall score for his school. If your child scores below the standards, contact his teacher to discuss getting additional assistance, and to find out how you can support your child's learning at home. If your child is in a failing school, ask what your options are for obtaining supplemental services or for transferring to a higher-performing school.
What changes did Kansas implement in the 2007-2008 school year?
Science and history-government tests were administered starting in 2007-2008. The history-government test will be administered every other year, alternating with the KSA writing test.
A few parting words
Although test results can be an indicator of what's happening in the classroom, they don't tell you everything about the quality of a particular school. Always look at more than one measure when judging school performance and visit in person before making any final assessment.
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