For immediate release:
October 1, 2012
Kathy Toelkes, Director of Communications, 785-295-4876
Review of state assessment results finds calculation error
Performance gap still evident; new data available on website
TOPEKA – The Kansas State Department of Education (KSDE) has updated statewide information on the 2011-2012 Building Report Card to reflect results only for students who took state-administered assessments after discovering a calculation error related to three districts that were allowed to use ACT assessments in place of state assessments. The revised statewide results still show a widening achievement gap among some populations after 11 straight years of closing the gap, however the drop off in performance is not as severe as originally reported.
The districts in question – the McPherson School District, the Clifton-Clyde School District and the Kansas City Kansas School District - received approval earlier this year from the U.S. Department of Education to use the ACT EXPLORE exam in place of state assessments in grade eight, and the ACT college entrance exam in place of state assessments in high school. This is the second year the McPherson School District has been administering the ACT exams in place of state assessments at those grade levels.
In order to include results for eighth grade and high school students from those districts in the statewide results, ACT mapped scores for those students to either the “meets standard” performance level or the “approaches standard” performance level within the state assessment system. Those scores had to be calculated separately from the state assessment data and it was within that calculation that the error occurred.
The result of the error was to inflate the number of students in those grades who did not participate on state assessments. Essentially, results for those students appeared twice in the state assessment report – once indicating non participation in state assessments and again reflecting their scores on the ACT assessments.
“This is the first year our agency has had to incorporate a significant number of non-state-administered assessments into our overall state data and unfortunately a calculation error occurred during that process that was not immediately identified,” said Education Commissioner Dr. Diane DeBacker. “In our efforts to correct that error, we determined that our schools and students would be better served by state assessment reports that focused on like assessments designed for like purposes, and so we recalculated our statewide report omitting results from students who took the ACT assessments rather than the state assessments in reading, math and science.”
The revised results include scores from state administered assessments in grades three through eight and high school in all school districts except the McPherson, Clifton-Clyde and Kansas City Kansas districts. Results for students in grades three through seven in those districts are included in the revised assessment results, as those students participated in the state administered assessments. The eighth grade and high school results from the three districts with assessment waivers were calculated separately and apart from the statewide results, and are available on the KSDE website.
The revised statewide assessment results, now available on the KSDE website, show a leveling out of performance on reading and math assessments. The percentage of students scoring in the top three performance levels in reading decreased by less than a percentage point from 2011, as compared to the original calculation which indicated a performance drop of almost two percentage points. In math, students in the top three levels increased just 0.3 percentage points from the prior year, versus the one-percentage point drop originally reported.
In the original assessment report made to the Kansas State Board of Education Sept. 18, KSDE officials shared concerns over state assessment results that were showing a significant increase in the achievement gap between economically disadvantaged students and their more affluent peers, as well as between white students and African American and Hispanic students. It’s now apparent that some of those increases were due to a larger and more diverse number of students taking the more difficult ACT college- and career-ready assessments.
“Those districts that sought a waiver from the U.S. Department of Education to take the ACT assessments in place of state assessments understood that they were likely to see a drop in performance among students taking the ACT assessments, at least initially,” said Brad Neuenswander, deputy commissioner for Learning Services at KSDE. “That’s because the ACT assessments are designed for a different measure – a college- and career-readiness measure rather than the grade-level performance measure for which our state assessments are designed. We support the efforts of those districts to focus on college- and career-ready measures, but we also need to be able to get an accurate picture of how Kansas students are progressing on the grade-level measures currently in place. Removing the non-state-administered assessment results from our state report helps us to do that.”
The new results still show a widening of the achievement gap between students who qualify for free lunch and those who pay full price for school lunches, as well as between African American students and white students. In reading, the performance gap between free-lunch students and those who pay full price widened by 1.5 percentage points, while the gap between the same group of students increased 0.7 percentage points in math. That represents a full percentage point decrease from the gap originally reported in reading, and in math the new gap measurement is down by 0.8 percentage points from what was originally reported.
In reading, the performance gap between African American students and white students increased 3.1 percentage points, as compared to 7.5 percentage points in the results originally reported. In math, the performance gap between those two student groups widened by 1.2 percentage points rather than the 4.2 percentage points in the original report.
Statewide science results among the all-student population only changed at the high school level, where the percentage of students in the top three performance levels was 82.4 percent. That’s an increase of 1.7 percentage points from what was originally reported, but still a decrease of more than a percentage point from the previous year. Students in the top three performance levels by subgroups show slight increases from the original report, but the
numbers are still down from the previous year in all categories and a significantly widening performance gap is seen among African American students as well as Hispanic students.
There were no changes to the history/government performance results.
“The revised results continue to show a persistent achievement gap among our students – one that is widening among a number of populations,” DeBacker said. “It is clear this is
becoming a growing problem, so I intend to move forward with the formation of a task force focused specifically on closing the achievement gap, as I announced previously. This remains a serious issue that deserves attention at the state level.”
Representatives from the Kansas African American Affairs Commission, the Kansas Hispanic & Latino American Affairs Commission, the Midwest Equity Assistance Center at Kansas State University, the Urban League of Kansas, state policy makers and others will be invited to participate on the task force. It is expected the task force will make recommendations to the State Board of Education in the early spring of 2013.