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Archive for Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Sample Kansas reading, math tests now online

February 12, 2014

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— Anyone interested in seeing what kind of reading and math tests Kansas students will be taking this spring can now take a practice exam online.

Marianne Perie, co-director of Kansas University's Center for Educational Testing and Evaluation, demonstrated the practice exams Wednesday during a presentation before the Kansas State Board of Education.

The test is administered through an online portal called the Kansas Interactive Testing Engine, or KITE. Users can go to http://ksassessments.org to download the software needed to log into the system and take the practice exams.

Perie said the new tests, which are aligned to the new Common Core standards, will require students to do more than pick the right answer from a multiple-choice list. Perie said the “technology-enhanced” tests require students to be actively, and physically involved in the testing process.

For example, she demonstrated an algebra problem from the high school-level math exam that asks students to plot a line on a graph based on an algebraic function.

In December, the state board voted to contract with CETE to develop the tests, opting out of a multi-state consortium known as Smarter Balanced that is developing a similar test.

Smarter Balanced is one of two multi-state groups that received federal funding to develop tests for the Common Core. That funding has helped fuel growing opposition to the new standards from politicians and groups who argue the entire initiative is an effort by the Obama administration to force a national set of standards on states.

U.S. Sen. Pat Roberts, a Kansas Republican, recently introduced legislation to block any further federal funding for the Common Core initiative, and to prevent the U.S. Department of Education from requiring states to use assessments from either of the two consortiums.

“Setting high standards for our schools, our teachers and our children is the right thing to do, but those standards should be decided in Kansas, without bribes or mandates from Washington,” Roberts said in a statement.

Perie, however, insisted the tests being developed by CETE will be unique to Kansas, noting that the center has hired Kansas writers to develop the reading and writing items for the English language arts test, as well as word problems in the math exams.

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