Updated: Oct 19
After over a decade of underfunding from the Kansas Legislature under the failed Brownback “tax experiment,” public school funding levels have been increased over the past 5 years. This only happened because in deciding the Gannon lawsuit, the Kansas Supreme Court directed the legislature to adhere to the Kansas Constitution. Our Constitution mandates that public schools be funded by the state. This academic year, public schools are finally funded at a level that the legislature itself defined as adequate (based on a study they commissioned) - with the exception of excess Special Education costs, as we’ve discussed before.
And guess what? Test scores are going up!
2023 State Assessment scores were recently released. Students in grades 3 - 8 and 10th are assessed in English Language Arts and math; science is tested in grades 5, 8, and 11.
The Kansas assessment student performances are scored using four levels:
A student at Level 1 shows a limited ability to understand and use the skills and knowledge needed for postsecondary readiness.
A student at Level 2 shows a basic ability to understand and use the skills and knowledge needed for postsecondary readiness.
A student at Level 3 shows an effective ability to understand and use the skills and knowledge needed for postsecondary readiness.
A student at Level 4 shows an excellent ability to understand and use the skills and knowledge needed for postsecondary readiness.
In Blue Valley, the overall numbers of students scoring in the top 2 levels each increased, while the numbers scoring in the lower levels decreased - for Math, English Language Arts, and Science.
The slate of School Board candidates backed by Moms For Liberty and the New York-based 1776 Project PAC have heavily relied on a claim that Blue Valley test scores are going down. It’s the same claim we we hear from Dave Trabert of the Kansas Policy Institute over and over. We’ve explained before how KPI has **added their own words** when they post about State Assessments. They have added the words “proficient” to describe Levels 3 and 4 - and falsely claim Level 2 is below proficiency. KPI added the words “but require remedial training” to Level 2. Those four words are NOT on the KSDE website. Trabert repeats this line when he frequently testifies in KsLeg committees, as a PAID KPI employee. He writes it in the KPI e-publication. If your student scored in Level 2 - that shows a “basic ability” in that subject. There’s room for improvement, but it’s certainly NOT failing.
The interactive KSDE webpage allows you to select subject, grade level, and student subgroup, and compare results to other districts and state totals.
Also: when you hear Trabert and MFL-backed candidates comparing current State Assessments to scores pre-2015, be aware that assessments from 2015-onward were redesigned to be much more rigorous. If you hear the ludicrous claim that only 50% of Blue Valley students are performing at grade level or are “college-ready” - THIS IS NOT TRUE. Be sure to ask how this can possibly be, when about 90% of BV graduates go to college? See our High School Profiles for that data, along with a list of some of the colleges they attend. https://www.standupbluevalley.org/blog/categories/high-school-profiles
After funding has been increased and the pandemic is in the rearview mirror, Kansas student performance is on the rise. Don’t be fooled by those trying to tell you otherwise.