In a new edition of a study that assesses the stringency of state school assessments, Kansas performs well.
States are free to create their own tests to measure the performance of students in their schools. There is variability in how stringently states construct their tests.
The U.S. Department of Education, through the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), conducts the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) every other year. Known as “The Nation’s Report Card,” it is “the largest nationally representative and continuing assessment of what America’s students know and can do in various subject areas.” 1
The value of NAEP is this, according to NCES:
Since standards vary across states, the results of the various state assessments cannot be used to directly compare students’ progress. However, by placing a state standard onto the NAEP scale, a common metric for all states, a NAEP equivalent score of that standard is produced, which can be compared across states.
The Mapping State Proficiency Standards report provides the results of this analysis. 2
From the technical notes to the report: “NAEP provided a common scale on which the stringency of the various state criteria for proficiency could be compared.” The purpose of the study is to map each state’s standards to a common standard. By doing this, we can determine whether a state uses a stringent or weak standard to evaluate students. This study does not evaluate the performance — good or bad — of a state’s students. Rather, the study evaluates the state and its standards.
Now, the recently-released mapping study shows Kansas to have high standards, in some cases the highest in the nation. This analysis by NCES is based on the 2017 administration of NAEP.
In the nearby illustration taken from the NCES mapping study, states with stronger standards appear on the right end of the scale. Kansas is somewhat above the middle. For grade 4 math, Kansas ranked higher.
For both grade 8 reading and math, Kansas standards were judged most stringent of all states.
This is good news. It means that the Kansas tests are providing a more realistic assessment of Kansas students. Again, this mapping study measures the tests, not the performance of students taking the test. Regarding performance, when properly considered, Kansas often underperforms the nation. 5
- National Assessment of Educational Progress. About. Available at nces.ed.gov/nationsreportcard/about/. ↩
- National Center for Education Statistics. Mapping State Proficiency Standards. Available at ah.* Available at https://nces.ed.gov/nationsreportcard/studies/statemapping/. ↩
- Weeks, Bob. Kansas school standards evaluated. Available at https://wichitaliberty.org/wichita-kansas-schools/kansas-school-standards-evaluated/. ↩
- Weeks, Bob. Accountability in Kansas public schools. Available at https://wichitaliberty.org/wichita-kansas-schools/accountability-in-kansas-public-schools/. ↩
- Weeks, Bob. NAEP results for 2017 available in interactive visualizations. Available at https://wichitaliberty.org/education/naep-results-for-2017-available-in-interactive-visualizations/. ↩