Published: January 6, 2005
Standards and Accountability: Kansas has tests aligned with state content standards in English, mathematics, and science, but not in social studies/history, in all grade spans.
The state’s tests rely solely on multiple-choice items.
The state publishes school report cards containing student-achievement data and assigns ratings to schools based in part on test results.
While Kansas provides help to schools rated low-performing, it does not impose sanctions on both Title I and non-Title I schools that consistently receive such ratings. Kansas does not offer monetary rewards for high-performing or improving schools.
Efforts to Improve Teacher Quality: The state’s score for efforts in this area has jumped a few points since last year.
The main reason for the improvement is that the state recently bolstered its teacher education requirements. Now, all high school and middle school teachers must complete majors in the subjects they will teach. Kansas is the only state to have such a requirement for all middle and high school teachers. The state also now requires all prospective teachers to complete at least 12 weeks of student teaching.
Kansas continues to pilot licensure tests. This school year, applicants for initial teaching licenses at the middle and high school levels must show that they have taken tests in the subjects they plan to teach, but the state has yet to set passing scores on those exams. The state hopes to set the scores this January.
This school year marks the second year of the state’s performance assessment. Beginning teachers must submit portfolios for review by the end of their first two years.
A panel of state-trained teachers—including “Kansas master teachers,” school administrators, teachers certified by the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards, and university professors—scores the portfolios. A passing score enables beginning teachers with conditional licenses to earn more advanced professional licenses.
Although the state has financed professional development in the past, the legislature did not provide such funding for this school year.
The state also does not require and finance mentoring for all beginning teachers.
However, Kansas produces comprehensive school report cards that include a variety of information on the certification status of teachers.
School Climate: Kansas merits one of the top grades for school climate, based on its strong showing on the background questions of the National Assessment of Educational Progress.
Among 8th graders, 88 percent are in schools where administrators report that student absenteeism is not a problem or is only a minor problem. And 97 percent of 4th graders attend schools where administrators report that physical conflicts between students are either not a problem or only a minor one.
The state also picks up points for having a larger percentage of students attending small schools than most other states.
Kansas loses some points because the state has a limited open-enrollment policy and because its charter law is rated weak by the Center for Education Reform.
Equity: Kansas is one of the top 10 states for resource equity, mostly because it has a wealth-neutrality score near zero.
The state’s score indicates that, when state and local revenues are considered, there is no relationship between revenue and a district’s property wealth.
But Kansas does show signs of disparities in funding across districts. The state’s coefficient of variation of 13 ranks the state 27th among the 50 states.
Kansas is about average on the McLoone Index, ranking 25th on that indicator. The McLoone Index compares the total amount spent on students in districts below the median with the amount that would be needed to ensure all districts spent at least at the median.
Spending: With a 6 percent increase in education spending from the previous year, Kansas is above the national average of $7,734, with $8,206 per pupil in the 2001-02 school year.
Kansas ranks 20th on the spending index, which compares the 50 states and the District of Columbia on the level of their funding.
Almost 70 percent of students in the state attend schools in districts that spend at or above the national average.
The state spends a higher portion of its taxable resources on education than do 35 other states, at 4.1 percent.
Its inflation-adjusted rate of change in expenditures over the past decade shows an average annual increase of 2.3 percent.
Vol. 24, Issue 17, Page 118