Archive for Monday, December 10, 2012

State Board of Education to review cut scores, Junior ROTC

December 10, 2012


This month's Kansas State Board of Education meeting will be the last for four members whose terms are expiring, and the agenda will be packed with some of their top-priority issues.

The board meets Tuesday and Wednesday at the Department of Education building, 10th and Quincy, in Topeka.

One item includes a discussion of "cut scores." Those are the scores that mark the dividing lines between performance levels on the state tests given annually to students. The state uses five performance categories to grade those tests: exemplary; exceeds standards; meets standards; approaches standards; and academic warning.

Walt Chappell, a Wichita Republican who lost his bid for re-election in the August primaries, has been a vocal critic of the state's cut scores, arguing they are too low and, therefore, reflect artificially high proficiency rates. But agency officials strongly disagree, and they plan to give a presentation Tuesday explaining how the state's system of cut scores works.

Also departing at the end of this year is Board chairman David Dennis, also a Wichita Republican, who chose not to seek re-election.

Dennis, a U.S. Air Force veteran, has been a strong advocate of Junior ROTC programs in secondary schools. He is leading a proposal on the board's agenda that would allow any student who successfully completes two years of Junior ROTC to receive one credit that will satisfy the physical education requirement for graduation.

In other business, the board will:

• Hear an update on the development of new educator evaluation protocols from the Teaching in Kansas Commission.

• Receive an update on progress in a multi-state effort to develop the Next Generation Science Standards.

• Vote on a proposed Kansas definition of "college and career ready."

• Review actions by interim legislative committees.

• Receive an update on the status of cursive writing in Kansas schools.


Dave Trabert 5 years, 6 months ago

Dr. Chappell isn't alone in believing Kansas has low standards. The US Department of Education reviewed all states' standards in 2009 and concluded that Kansas has some of the lowest standards in the nation. In fact, they found that 40 states have higher 4th grade Reading standards and 35 states have higher 8th grade Reading standards. Kansas is one othe states with the dubious distinction of having it's Proficiency standards set lower than what is considered Basic by USDE. I am one of the authors of "Removing Barriers to Better Public Education," which provides additional details (fully annotated) on the subject at

KSDE is correct in pointing out that USDE approved their methodology in arriving at the standards, but that determination had nothing to do with whether the standards were high enough. No Child Left Behind allowed states to set their own standards, so the USDE review was merely to determine whether each state followed acceptable procedures in arriving at whatever standard each chose...regardless of how high or how low.

It's also important to know that KSDE does not deny that they lowered standards in 2002 and 2006. Prior to publishing the above-referenced study in June, we gave Dr. DeBacker and Mr. Dennis three written opportunities to identify any inaccuracies in our findings. They did not respond.

The point of all this is not to assess blame. If you must, I supposed it's fair to blame the federal government for first putting states in the impossible position of having to deal with NCLB. Instead, Kansas should acknowledge that standards are too low and give students and parents an honest look at where achievement truly stands so parents can make fully informed decisions on what they believe needs to be changed. We do students and parents no favors by pretending to have high standards and send thousands of kids off to college or the workforce unprepared.

chootspa 5 years, 6 months ago

Ah, good to see that Dave, of the Koch-sponsored Kansas Policy Institute (aka the Koch Policy Institute) and the Koch-sponsored ALEC is here to give us a good ol' Gish Gallop.

He's long argued that our standards are too low. That isn't true, but it is irrelevant, since we've already started the process of moving to Common Core.

It's part of Dave's long term goal of defunding public education. He'd rather offer a system where parents are given a coupon (voucher) to go to a private school. It's a system not supported by evidence. Parents choose based on social factors rather than academics, so it does society no good to offer this faux-market system. It doesn't lead to an equalization of opportunity through improved educational outcomes. Studies that try to account for selection bias and socioeconomic status find that the schools do not do any better (and may do worse). It also ends up costing more in the long run for inferior results as we lose economics of scale. Meanwhile, it masks the true causes of educational disparity - much of which relate to income disparity.

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