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"School choice, it seems, should be a no-brainer. Why not give families vouchers, allowing them to make free choices for their children’s education? There’s a reason increasing numbers of inner-city activists in places like Chicago and Washington, D.C., are fighting for charter schools and voucher programs. They know choice would be better for their kids. They know the government has failed them."

http://www.realclearpolitics.com/articles/2014/08/14/the_crazy_world_of_public_schools_123654.html


The Crazy World of Public Schools | RealClearPolitics
www.realclearpolitics.com
Are America’s vast, sprawling, powerful government agencies really all that bad? Left-leaning New York Times columnist Paul Krugman, in a recent series of columns and blog posts, has...
Thu, 14 Aug 2014 15:51:55 +0000
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LIKE if you agree with the 80% of Kansans who believe that employees should have the right to decide, without force or penalty, whether to join or leave a labor union. http://www.employeefreedomweek.com/survey-results/


Survey Results | Employee Freedom Week
www.employeefreedomweek.com
National Employee Freedom Week has released a series of scientific surveys to find out how many union members want to leave their union and gauging the public’s support for employee freedom. The results were surprising.
Tue, 12 Aug 2014 15:16:37 +0000

Kansas school funding has been increasing
www.washingtonpost.com
The Aug. 1 news article “In Kansas, a deep-red ‘experiment,’ ” about Kansas’s tax reform, provided incomplete data on school funding. The base state aid data used to show a decline in school funding r...
Tue, 05 Aug 2014 14:27:30 +0000
Last Refreshed 9/1/2014 11:01:41 PM
KPIBlog
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Take a full, complete look at student achievement
Posted by James Franko on Friday, March 09, 2012
By now, hopefully you've seen an advertisement in your local paper about the student achievement levels of your area districts. If not, you can view an example of one from the Topeka Capital-Journal here. A version of this exact same ad is running in multiple papers around the state highlighting surrounding districts; you can find the numbers for your district's reading and math scores at www.KansasOpenGov.Org.

What seems to be drawing the most attention is that many Kansans understand student achievement to be higher than what we published. This is because we looked beyond the top-line definitions of student achievement (e.g., Meets Standard) and examine the underlying verbiage that supports it.

Right up front, we are using data directly from the Kansas Department of Education. As with all data at KansasOpenGov, it is from an official government source, in this case KSDE, and is publicly available (we just put it all in one place) or we filed the appropriate Kansas Open Records Act request.

The question we're asking Kansans to keep in mind as they digest the advertisement and this blog is - Are these levels of student achievement good enough?

For instance, the high school reading definition for Meets Standard, from KSDE, reads as “When independently reading grade-appropriate narrative, expository, technical, and persuasive text, a proficient student has satisfactory comprehension.” It is only when a student achieves “Exceeds Standard” status that they are expected to have “full comprehension.”

Let's look at what this means in real terms and use an example from the advertisement linked to above. In the ad, USD 330-Mission Valley is listed as having 50% of 11th grade students who read grade-appropriate material with full comprehension and 71% are usually accurate on all grade-level math tasks. Those numbers reflect the percentage of students who ranked as "Exceeds Standard" and "Exemplary" on the 2011 state exam in either category.

The confusion arises because often a school district or the state point to the number of student at or above grade-level to include those student who "Meets Standard.” Strictly using the state’s top-line definitions, 100% of 11th graders in Mission Valley meet or exceed the state standard in math and 93.3% at the same level on reading.

Remember, a student who “Meets Standard” doesn't have to fully understand his reading material or accurately complete all of his math problems.

So, the question remains, are these levels of achievement good enough?

Many Kansas students receive a fine education, but too many are being left behind. The only way we can have a conversation about how to move forward is to be honest with what our children are achieving. Let’s also remember that there appears to be no link between student achievement and K-12 spending. For instance, between 1998 and 2011, funding for public education in Kansas increased from $3.1 billion to $5.6 billion and Kansas test scores on the “gold standard” of achievement tests from the U.S. Department of Education are virtually unchanged.

We applaud the hard work of Kansas students and teachers but also think some are taking the easier route of looking for evidence to defend the status quo rather than taking an honest look at where we are and how we can get better.
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