Archive for Saturday, November 12, 2011

School board to review state’s finance, achievement levels

November 12, 2011


Only six states — Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont, Connecticut, New Jersey and Minnesota — rank higher than Kansas in student performance across a broad array of academic measures, Mark Tallman said.

They all spend more money per student, too.

“What we need to do is focus on those states that are doing better and see what we can learn from them,” said Tallman, associate executive director and director of advocacy for the Kansas Association of School Boards.

Equally, if not more, important, he said: Political and educational leaders need to understand that if the state continues to cut funding for public education, Kansas students run the risk of falling further behind others from higher-performing — and better-financing — states.

“Schools are always asked to do better, to get better, to reach even higher,” Tallman said. “Well, when you look around the country, there aren’t many states doing better, and those that are are spending more per pupil. …

“If our funding continues to fall, then our achievement will fall.”

Tallman is scheduled to present, review and discuss financing and achievement issues Monday, during the Lawrence school board’s meeting set for 7 p.m. at district headquarters, 110 McDonald Drive.

His visit comes at the invitation of Vanessa Sanburn, a board member who heard Tallman speak during a recent regional meeting conducted by Tallman’s association, which represents and advocates on behalf of school boards statewide.

Using the most recent national information available, Tallman has set out to make viable comparisons in both achievement and finances. He said Kansas ranked No. 7 on the list for achievement, when averaging the state’s rankings in terms of 11 categories ranging from reading and math scores, to SAT and ACT performance, to graduation rates and eventual levels of educational attainment as adults.

That’s solid standing, he said, especially with all the schools that rank higher each spending more than $10,000 per pupil, when taking into account base state aid, federal grants and other revenue sources, excluding capital expenses.

Kansas checked in with less than $10,000 per pupil.

“We think this should be good news to parents and taxpayers and patrons because the resources we’re putting in are yielding very good results compared to other states,” Tallman said.

Just where the numbers will go from here remains undetermined. Gov. Sam Brownback’s administration is discussing plans to give local districts more control over budget resources with the potential for districts to seek additional financing through local taxes that could be retained within each district.

Tallman, who has worked for the association of school boards for more than 20 years, is taking a bit of a wait-and-see approach.

“We think there’s some promising features, but there are a lot of concerns,” he said. “Until we see the actual numbers, it’s hard to see how it’s going to lay out.”

Also on Monday’s meeting agenda:

• Receive reports regarding the district’s English as a Second Language and Native American Student Services programs.

• Receive a budget update from Kathy Johnson, the district’s division director for finance.

• Approve an open purchase order for laptops and open work stations.


bobbidavid 6 years, 5 months ago

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chootspa 6 years, 5 months ago

Good news about Kansas schools? Don't worry, I'm sure our favorite astroturfer will be here to tell us why we should all be sad about it.

Dave Trabert 6 years, 5 months ago

Not sad, but realistic. KASB and other education officials want to believe that spending more money is the answer, despite the fact that Kansas' own experience proves otherwise. Total aid to schools increased from $3.0 billion to $5.6 billion between 1998 and 2011, yet proficiency levels remained relatively unchanged and quite low. Details on spending and achievement are available at

Kansas' overall scores on the National Assessment of Education Progress compare well to most states but that's primarily because of dramatic differences in the student body makeups of each state. Those differences are clearly seen at

We're still building the state comparisons on each demographic but you can find them at There you will see that Kansas' overall scores seem high because of disproportionate weighting of White students, which score much higher in each state than do Hispanics and African Americans.

For example, Kansas' White students are one point below the national average for 4th Grade Reading. Texas, which has a lower overall average, is 3 points above the national average for 4th Grade White students' reading.

FYI, Mark Tallman and I will be speaking on December 5 at 6:30pm in Baldwin City about the facts of school spending and student achievement for area districts.

chootspa 6 years, 5 months ago

As Kugrad points out, Dave Trabert is a Wichita resident and president of the Koch-sponsored Kansas Policy Institute (the links he spammed) and on a committee with ALEC ( ) He's here to argue for his Koch-funded astroturf charter movement, in spite of the lack of good evidence that charters actually improve outcomes. In fact, the largest study on the issue found that charter students were more likely to have lower than expected outcomes than they were improved outcomes.

Arguing that Texas has better scores than Kansas on a single, very specific test for a single grade? Why gosh, you've totally proven that we should be just like Texas. Our low income students in Kansas score above the national average and beat Texas low income students by 3 points in 8th grade reading scores. Therefore Texas should be just like Kansas.

I agree that Kansas is partially aided by demographics in their education system, but they're also aided by a more equitable school funding system. A system Brownback and Trabert want to end.

kugrad 6 years, 5 months ago

Trabert is back with his distortions brought to you by the KPI - Koch Propoganda Inc. (aka KS Policy Institute). They constantly misuse the NEAP data to suit their distorted picture of Kansas Schools. Mr. Trabert, I have personally spoken with one of the people in charge of data analysis at NAEP and he confirms what I am about to say here: You cannot use the NAEP data to imply that students are performing below grade level; that is not a legitimate use of this data.

NO state meets the NAEP (nations report card) standards, which are NOT GRADE LEVEL STANDARDS, because they are intentionally set to a lofty goal for schools to aspire to. Kansas does not water down their state tests, as Mr. Trabert declares in editorials across the state. Kansas has high standards in math and reading.

So why would Mr. T be so inclined to run down the schools and misuse data? Because it is his job. He is a professional propagandist for an organization whose goal is the privatization of public schools. The actual data from the State of Kansas on grade level performance show the exact opposite of Mr. Traberts false assertions (which is why he cherry picks his data in the first place rather than using state data), the increased spending following the successful lawsuits of the mid 90's resulted in a matching increase in test scores. Yes, money does matter and when used well improves educational outcomes.

I do agree with one part of Mr. Trabert's statements. It is terrible that there is still an achievement gap between students of color and white students in Kansas and nationally. I would submit that the roots of this (years of institutional racism and poverty in the USA) cannot be solved by the schools. However, teachers work every day to change this outcome and progress is being made. Mr. T doesn't actually care about this though, it is simply another pathway to attack public education to pave the way for privatization.

I respectfully ask the LJW to ban Mr. Trabert from these boards. He is not speaking as an individual, but as a paid provocateur whose job is to spread misinformation. That is not a valid use of these boards.

kugrad 6 years, 5 months ago

By the way, Mr Trabert will NEVER speak on the facts of public school spending in Baldwin or elsewhere. He will only speak opinions that are bought and paid for. He has an agenda and it is not good for Kansas.

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