Archive for Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Statehouse Live: Student performance drops amid budget cuts

September 18, 2012


— On the heels of budget cuts, student performance on statewide reading and math tests dropped for the first time since 2001, education officials reported Tuesday. History and science scores dropped too.

Mark Tallman, a lobbyist for the Kansas Association of School Board, said the decline was directly linked to cuts in state funding to schools.

"In our view, you put in targeted resources you get some good results. You have to withdraw some of those resources, and you start falling back," Tallman said.

But Kansas Education Commissioner Diane DeBacker said it was difficult to determine the cause of the decline.

" … we do know that having moved so many of our students to and beyond grade level performance, Kansas educators are now engaged in the difficult work of moving our most challenged students into higher levels of performance."

The percentage of students in the top three performance levels — exemplary, exceeds standards and meets standards — in reading dropped 1.9 percentage points from 2011 to 85.7 percent.

On the math test, students in the top three levels dropped one percentage point to 83.7 percent.

These were the first annual decreases since the federal No Child Left Behind law took effect in 2001. The law requires all students to be proficient in reading and math by 2014.

However, the Obama administration has given waivers to 30 states, including Kansas, which grants more flexibility.

Student performance also declined in science, which is tested in grades four, seven and once in high school. History tests were given for the first time since 2008, and those also showed decline.

The 2012 Kansas Report Card was presented Tuesday to the State Board of Education. Several members noted the declining results came after cuts to schools.

Tallman agreed, saying scores increased when the Legislature was increasing school spending.

"It's really pretty straightforward," he said. "Districts used the increased funding for specific things. They hired more people, they added more programs, they added all-day kindergarten, they added summer school, they added after school programs.

"When you have to cut the base budget and you have to cut your general fund budget, those are exactly where you have to take the dollars away from," he said.

Base state aid was $4,400 per student in the 2008-09 school year and fell to $3,780 per student after several rounds of budget cuts during the recession. The current school year level is $3,838 per student.

A lawsuit filed by several school district says the cuts to schools are unconstitutional. That case is pending before a three-judge panel. And critics of tax cuts recently signed into law by Gov. Sam Brownback say the cuts will make it difficult to increase school funding.

During Tuesday's board meeting, the board also recommended 10 percent budget cuts to the Kansas State School for the Deaf and the Kansas State School for the Blind. Several board members said the proposed cuts, if enacted, would devastate the schools, but those who voted for the recommendation said they were abiding by a budget directive from Brownback's office to come up with ways to reduce spending.


riverdrifter 5 years, 4 months ago

"“It’s difficult to say with certainty what may have caused the performance declines we see in the 2012 data..." Guv bronwnback will be pleased. The dumbing-down process is off to a good start.

chootspa 5 years, 4 months ago

Trabert will be around any second now to continue it along.

jhawkinsf 5 years, 4 months ago

Gov. Brownback is a buffoon. That said, student performance has been in decline for many, many years.

deec 5 years, 4 months ago

"On the heels of budget cuts, student performance on statewide reading and math tests dropped for the first time since 2001, education officials reported Tuesday. History and science scores dropped too."

Paul R Getto 5 years, 4 months ago

Not really, but the challenges grow larger each year. Student "performance" depends on what is measured. We waste lots of money measuring things that may not be important.

Stuart Sweeney 5 years, 4 months ago

I hope erveryone does not get as dumb as Sam!

George_Braziller 5 years, 4 months ago

Too late. If the majority of people were smart, Sammy wouldn't have ever been elected Governor.

cowboy 5 years, 4 months ago

I will guess this will start the teacher bashing coming from the Brownback clan. Next will be the call for rating teachers vs test scores.

How bout we rate / retain / fire legislators and governors based on economic growth and jobs created.

George_Braziller 5 years, 4 months ago

Unfortunately it's always a small percentage of eligible voters who actually do it. That's how we ended up with Brownback and his declaration that he had a "mandate." Almost 2.9 million people living in the state but less than 550,000 people actually voted for him.

He's such a clueless jackass.

question4u 5 years, 4 months ago

It's OK. Even strategies like defunding public education so that business owners in Kansas can pay no state income tax won't diminish US military capability or economic competitiveness. Republicans have a plan to save us all from the damaging effects of cutting funds to education. All we have to do is import our scientists and engineers from foreign countries:

"On Tuesday, House Judiciary Chairman Representative Lamar Smith (R-Texas) introduced a bill that would reallocate up to 55,000 green cards per year to foreign graduates of U.S. universities with advanced degrees in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields. The STEM Jobs Bill is being fast-tracked for a full House of Representatives vote on Thursday." (Chronicle of Higher Education)

That's a great plan. It should make everyone happy. Wealthy business owners can pay little or no taxes, Americans who are willing to sacrifice their children's futures so that wealthy business owners can pay little or no taxes won't complain, American universities can stay afloat by switching from state funding to revenues from increased recruitment of foreign students, foreign students should be happy because they can come to the US and get the highest paying jobs, and the governments of China, India, and Korea should be happy because some of those highly trained scientists and engineers can be lured back home after having led innovation in science and technology in the US.

So, it turns out that the US doesn't need to be globally competitive in public education after all. Foreign students will save us.

hyperinflate 5 years, 4 months ago

"History and science scores dropped too."

But their knowledge of Jesus and creationism has risen off the charts, I'm sure.

mycatsrightorwrong 5 years, 4 months ago

That's what Bill Clinton would call arithmetic

Tracy Rogers 5 years, 4 months ago

So it's just a coincidence that those "ebbs and swells" have all been moving up until funding gets cut? Wake up. The things that have been cut have been the extras that were added to get kids more help. The summer schools, the after school programs, the extra tutors....those are all programs or people who were added with the increased funds, but have been done away with with the decreased funds.

Tracy Rogers 5 years, 4 months ago

You do realize that you are comparing two different groups don't you? Alex Garrison's article is about Lawrence schools only, while this article is about all the schools in the state. And yes, it's possible for schools to still meet the Standards of Excellence and have scores drop. It depends what those scores were at the year before.

chootspa 5 years, 4 months ago

Yes. It's just a coincidence. But when funding goes up and performance does not immediately improve, it's proof that money doesn't matter.

James MacMurray 5 years, 4 months ago

Total Expenditures per Pupil '01-'02 $8,701 '10-'11 $11,089 (+$2,388 or +27.5%)

CPI over same period +23.0%

Tracy Rogers 5 years, 4 months ago

2008-09 $11,825 2009-10 $11,576 2010-11 $11,089 2011-12 ??? another drop I'm sure

Funding has decreased the past 3 or 4 years. CPI means nothing when you take into account how underfunded it was before. Courts even told legislators they were underfunding.

Carol Bowen 5 years, 4 months ago

"See a breakdown of how the schools did at" by Alex Garrison. - from the paper, today. Not only are newspaper readers left out of the loop, but the Journal World is losing readership. No news. I happen to read the paper and, but I get irritated when I am expected to log on to finish an article.

chootspa 5 years, 4 months ago

Depends on the question you ask. Paying teachers better does relate to better outcomes. However, teacher pay based on performance doesn't raise student scores. In one experiment, they even tried offering $15,000 bonuses for raising scores. It didn't work.

It makes sense. We don't actually pay teachers that much relative to the education required for the profession, and many of the best and brightest are going to be forced economically to work somewhere else. I suspect we'll see a continued decline now that they've changed the KPERS formula and eliminated future deferred compensation incentives.

chootspa 5 years, 4 months ago

Ah, the ideology exposed. There are some great teachers and some lousy teachers, just like any other profession, but it certainly doesn't help with retention when you're paid substantially less than other people with the same level of education. It's not a matter of going through and firing a bunch of people ala Michelle "cheating scandal" Rhee. That demoralizes even good teachers and gets everyone to leave. It's a matter of having competitive choices when you hire someone in the first place. Unions don't stop you from firing bad teachers, btw. Administrators have the power to document performance issues right now.

Interestingly enough, Finland has higher union membership than the US and higher teacher pay relative to GDP. They also kick our butts educationally.

Richard Heckler 5 years, 4 months ago

Now Sam Brownback ,Koch boys and the Walton/Wal-Mart family can come out and say that cutting education budgets forces negative growth in learning. Exactly as planned.

Now Sam Brownback ,Koch boys and the Walton/Wal-Mart family will want to introduce high profit/high cost private schools supported with tax dollars of course. The sales pitch would go "Facism is a wonderful guarantee that our system will profit".

We Sam Brownback ,Koch boys and the Walton/Wal-Mart family love corporate welfare and learned long ago tax dollar mooching does pay back so so sweet.

We Sam Brownback ,Koch boys and the Walton/Wal-Mart family cannot say with absolute certainty that students performance will improve however bottom lines will impress our stockholders.

Not only that we Sam Brownback ,Koch boys and the Walton/Wal-Mart family will be feeding your children our way of thinking like it or not. This is possible because we now control k-12 publishing rights and oh what a dream come true.

Just goes to show what we Sam Brownback ,Koch boys and the Walton/Wal-Mart family have achieved with the help of voting taxpayers not paying attention.

K-12 is the perfect example. Former Reagan/Bush team player William (Bill) Bennett is a founder of K-13 and loves those tax dollars. Is anyone paying attention?

chootspa 5 years, 4 months ago

I heard he personally went through making loud noises during testing sessions to make sure the scores would decline.

globehead 5 years, 4 months ago

The Brownback legacy begins. At least we're protected from the scourge of Sharia law. Money well spent on that little deal.

chootspa 5 years, 4 months ago

It's a good thing you saved them, then. I know all the women in Lawrence were really close to adopting Sharia law for themselves and their daughters and granddaughters.

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