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Gov't can provide quality service while saving taxpayers money.


A plan for balancing the Kansas state budget

Kansas Policy Institute President Dave Trabert presents KPI's plan to balance the state's budget without service reductions or tax increases. Trabert spoke a...
Thu, 18 Dec 2014 17:34:52 +0000
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Another reason to watch Seinfeld reruns. Economics lessons taken directly from the "show about nothing." http://yadayadayadaecon.com/clip/67/


The Soup Nazi (The Economics of Seinfeld)
yadayadayadaecon.com
The Soup Nazi makes delicious soup—so good there's always a line outside his shop. He refuses service to Elaine, and by a stroke of luck she comes across his stash of soup recipes. She visits his shop and informs him that his soup monopoly is broken, while waving his recipes in his face. Also in thi…
Wed, 03 Dec 2014 16:15:10 +0000
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Happy Thanksgiving and a hearty huzzah for property rights. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=66QdQErc8JQ


The Pilgrims and Property Rights: How our ancestors got fat & happy

The Pilgrims founded their colony at Plymouth Plantation in December 1620 and promptly started dying off in droves. As the colony's early governor, William B...
Tue, 25 Nov 2014 16:14:47 +0000
Last Refreshed 12/19/2014 4:16:06 PM
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Take a full, complete look at student achievement
Posted by James Franko on Friday, March 9, 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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