Kansas state assessment results for math are the highest since 2017, and overall, more students are scoring at proficient levels in math and English language arts than last year.
The state also is seeing higher graduation rates overall and in subgroups, and more students are earning college credits while in high school, Kansas Commissioner of Education Dr. Randy Watson said Tuesday, Oct. 10, during his 2022-2023 Annual Report to the Kansas State Board of Education.
The Kansas assessment student performances are scored using four levels:
Each year, students in grades third through eighth and 10th are assessed in English language arts and math.
The 2023 math assessment results show that 10.01% of all students assessed scored at Level 4, an increase from 8.66% in 2022. In 2018, 9.14% of all students assessed in math scored at Level 4. By 2021, it had dropped to 7.82%.
The 2023 math assessment results also show a decrease in the number of students scoring at Level 1. It decreased from 34.19% in 2022 to 33.13% in 2023.
The 2023 ELA assessment results show that 8.18% of all students assessed scored at Level 4, an increase from 7.57% in 2022.
Like the 2023 math assessment results, the 2023 ELA results show a decrease in the number of students scoring at Level 1. In 2022, 33.94% of Kansas students scored at Level 1, compared to 32.89% in 2023.
“Are there too many students in Level 1? Yes, absolutely,” Watson said. “We’re headed in the right direction, but we still need to double down. We have to commit to every teacher in the state being trained in the science of reading.”
In 2021, KSDE and the State Board allocated $15 million to address early literacy. This initiative – called Language Essentials for Teachers of Reading and Spelling (LETRS™) – is a professional learning course for instructors of reading, spelling and related skills. It trains educators in the science of reading. LETRS™ training is available for free to educators in state-accredited systems.
While a large number of educators have taken the LETRS™ training, Watson said more need to participate to help students recover skills they lost or didn’t receive during the pandemic.
There was no increase in the percentage of students scoring at Level 1 at any grade level in math or ELA, and there was no decrease in the percentage of students scoring at Levels 3 and 4 at any grade level in math or ELA.
Five out of seven grade levels assessed in ELA showed a decrease in the number of students scoring in Level 1. Fifth and eighth grades remained the same. Six out of the seven grade levels assessed in ELA showed an increase in the combined number of students scoring at Levels 3 and 4.
Five out of seven grade levels assessed in math showed a decrease in the number of students scoring at Level 1. Every grade level assessed in math showed an increase in the combined number of students scoring at Levels 3 and 4.
Chronic absenteeism rates decreased from 24.5% in 2022 to 21.8% in 2023. Chronic absenteeism is defined as missing 10% or more of the total number of days enrolled during the school year. It includes both excused, unexcused, out-of-school suspensions and in-school suspensions that last more than one-half of the school day. Students who are chronically absent miss critical instruction time and are at the greatest risk of falling behind and dropping out of school.
Graduation rates continue to rise, especially in special population groups. The state’s graduation goal is 95%, Watson said. He presented graduation rates from 2022 because the 2023 graduation information won’t be available until later this year.
From 2016 (86.1%) to 2022 (89.3%), Kansas saw an increase of 3.7%. The graduation rates of English Language Learners, students with disabilities and students who receive free and reduced-price lunches also saw increases.
From 2016 (77.4%) to 2022 (83%), there was an increase of 7.2% of students with disabilities who graduated. From 2016 (77.7%) to 2022 (84.4%), ELL students had an increase of 8.6%. There was an increase of 5.6% in students graduating who receive free and reduced-price lunches, from 77.8% in 2016 to 82.2% in 2022.
As the Kansas graduation rate increased, so did the rate of students completing or remaining enrolled in postsecondary education two years after high school (called the postsecondary effective rate), Watson said. The five-year average postsecondary effective rate increased by 7 percentage points (15.9%) in seven years. From 2011-2015, the five-year average postsecondary effective rate was 44%. From 2017-2021, it was 51%.
More students are earning college credits while in high school, too. During the past six years, there has been a 14.5% increase in the number of students who took postsecondary courses (including dual credit, concurrent, Excel in CTE, etc.) while in high school. From 2022 to 2023 alone, there was a 6.8% increase, from 33,519 students in 2022 to 35,785 students in 2023.
Watson said there are steps that school districts can take toward preparing each student for postsecondary opportunities and success, which is one of the strategic, targeted State Board goals. Those steps include:
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