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Kansas State Board of Education misleads on student achievement

Dave Trabert, Kansas Policy Institute

Dave Trabert, Kansas Policy Institute

From Kansas Policy Institute.

State Board of Education misleads on student achievement

By Dave Trabert

Readers of this blog are well aware that Kansas has a two-tiered education system. About half of students are doing well but the other half — those considered low income based on eligibility for free or reduced lunch — are several years’ worth of learning behind. Honest reviews of national rankings show that Kansas’ scores are about average.

But citizens are told that student achievement is very high in Kansas — and that false sense of high achievement is a tremendous barrier to getting students the help they need.

So it was particularly disturbing to see this postcard from the Kansas Board of Education painting a distorted view of ACT scores. Basically, they say that if one only considers certain states, Kansas has the second highest score in the nation.

Now here are the facts from ACT. Kansas’ white students’ composite score of 22.6 is the 21st highest score among states. Hispanic students’ composite score of 19.3 is the 24th highest score among states. Black students’ composite score of 17.5 is the 19th highest score among states.

The gap between white students and those of color has gotten wider over the last ten years. To put that in perspective, ACT reports that 35 percent of Kansas’ white students scored well enough to be considered college-ready in English, Reading, Math and Science — but only 14 percent of Hispanic students and only 7 percent of African American students are college-ready.

I went to the February Board of Education meeting and expressed concern over the contents of their mailer in the public comment forum. Their reaction: “meh”

By the way, Kansas has 34,778 teachers according to the Kansas Department of Education … not 101,578 as claimed on the Board of Education postcard.

Pretending to have high achievement is another sad example of institutional interests taking priority over student needs. It doesn’t matter how the “state” or a “district” is doing; what matters is how every student is doing. And a lot of them aren’t doing very well.

Boy, do we need a cultural shift in Kansas.