In the Wichita Eagle a number of school district superintendents made a plea for increased funding in Kansas schools, referring to “multiple funding cuts.” (Reverse funding cuts, May 3, 2012)
As an aside, I wonder if these superintendents know that Deputy Commissioner of Education Dale Dennis has said that this school year is likely to be a record-setting year for Kansas school spending, when considering all sources of funding.
But what Kansans ought to take notice of is the superintendents’ claim in this sentence: “Historically, our state has had high-performing schools, which make Kansas a great place to live, raise a family and run a business.”
The truth is that when compared to other states, Kansas has low standards.
The U.S. Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) has analyzed state standards, and we can see that Kansas has standards that are below most states. The table of figures is available at Estimated NAEP scale equivalent scores for state proficiency standards, for reading and mathematics in 2009, by grade and state. An analysis of these tables by the Kansas Policy Institute shows that few states have standards below the Kansas standards.
This table is from KPI’s report earlier this year titled Removing Barriers to Better Public Education: Analyzing the facts about student achievement and school spending.
The conclusion by NCES is “… most states’ proficiency standards are at or below NAEP’s definition of Basic performance.” KPI, based on simple analysis of the NCES data, concluded: “Kansas is one of those states, with its Reading Proficiency standard set lower than what the U.S. Department of Education considers Basic performance. Math Proficiency levels are above what NAEP considers to be Basic but still well below the U.S. standard for Proficient.”
The superintendents write: “We recognize that improvement is still possible.” One improvement is for Kansas to upgrade its standards to at least the average of other states. In this way, Kansans will be better informed about the true performance of their schools. Let’s also ask that school district superintendents be truthful about spending and student achievement.