The federal No Child Left Behind legislation sets the standard that all children should be proficient in reading and math by 2014. While a federal law, it’s left to the states to set the standard as to what proficiency means, and to test for it. As you might imagine, there is considerable variation between the states when they judge the performance of their students on test.
The article Few States Set World-Class Standards explains in more detail and includes a table grading the states as to the strength of their proficiency standards. Kansas received an overall grade of C-. More troubling for Kansas is that the change in proficiency standards is down, meaning that standards for Kansas schoolchildren are becoming less stringent.