Kansas and regional news

Kansas and regional news

Corkins questions KU test center

Wichita superintendent says commissioner overreacting

March 11, 2006


The Kansas University center that produces statewide tests is on the hot seat with Education Commissioner Bob Corkins.

In a memo to the Kansas State Board of Education, Corkins said he had received "several serious criticisms of the service provided" by the KU Center for Educational Testing and Evaluation, which is co-directed by John Poggio.

Corkins plans to bring up his concerns Tuesday as part of his commissioner's report to the board.

In his memo, Corkins said he planned to investigate complaints he had received about the center while meeting last month with educators in Wichita.

Corkins said the state might need to take "remedial action of some sort" in its contract with the center.

In response to the memo, Poggio said Friday he was in the dark about Corkins' comments.

"I've only been aware of this for the last couple of days. No one is talking to us," said Poggio, a longtime KU education professor.

Poggio said he had one conversation with Corkins, who had told him he planned to speak with the board about the concerns mentioned in the Wichita meeting.

Wichita school district Supt. Winston Brooks said that although the district had some concerns about testing data provided by the center, Corkins was overreacting.

"I was very honestly surprised to find our discussion in a formalized report to the State Board of Education," Brooks said.

Corkins could not be reached Friday to respond to Brooks' statement.

The KU center has been conducting statewide tests for Kansas for the last 25 years. Depending on the amount of testing, the state pays the center between $2 million and $3 million per year, Poggio said.

The center puts the tests together, studies and analyzes the results and then reports back to state Department of Education. Each year there are approximately 400,000 statewide tests given in the Kansas public school system.

Brooks said the major complaint about the center was the turnaround time in receiving test results.

Poggio said when the center designed new tests, it sometimes took longer to issue those results.

Despite his concerns, Brooks said he wasn't seeking any change in the vendors or administration of the test system.

Board member Bill Wagnon, a Democrat from Topeka whose district includes Lawrence, said he would not want to disrupt the contract with the center.

Contracting with a group outside of Kansas would be "outrageous," Wagnon said.


Scott Tichenor 12 years, 2 months ago

"one-man think tank"

Why do I always laugh when I think of that phrase?

b_asinbeer 12 years, 2 months ago

Corkins has finally done it....he wants to ban tests. That's nice and all, but don't you think that's pushing things too far? ;o) The man's crazy.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 12 years, 2 months ago

Corkins isn't an idiot, but he is an ideologue who's using this job to further his career as a far-right political hack and lobbyist.

usaschools 12 years, 2 months ago

If Corkins actually investigated this before he shot his mouth off, he would find that districts and schools that opt to take the online version of the test can get their results within 24 hours or less. The paper and pencil version with bubble-sheet scoring obviously delays the results (as is true with the Stanford, Iowa Basics Skills Test, and every other major standardized test).

It is embarrasing enough having such an ignorant State Board of Education, but having to live with Corkins just adds insult to injury.

blackwalnut 12 years, 2 months ago

Corkins' motives are not pure and everyone knows it. He waltzed into this job for which he is not qualified because the radical right wingers on the school board wanted a guy who would gut education funding, support vouchers and tout charter schools. Corkins already made no secret of his wish to opt out of No Child Left Behind testing. That's fine, but to pretend CETE is not doing its job is a disingenuous way to go about it.

Corkins is an enemy of education. That he is in the position of education commissioner shows how far Kansas has fallen and how asleep at the wheel Kansas are.

Vote in the next school board election, people! This stuff doesn't just happen to us, it happens because we aren't doing our job as citizens and voters.

We need to vote in some people who care about education, not about pushing personal religious agendas and gutting funding for a system that is already starved to the bone.

Corkins is the anti-Christ of education in Kansas.

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