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Kansas students’ scores on assessments drop for first time in more than a decade

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Tuesday, Sep. 18, 2012, at 6:19 p.m.
  • Updated Tuesday, Sep. 18, 2012, at 7:23 p.m.

Kansas students’ scores on statewide reading and math tests dropped for the first time in more than a decade, education officials announced Tuesday.

Results from the 2012 Kansas assessments, presented during a State Board of Education meeting in Topeka, show declines across the board – in reading, math, science and history/government – after an 11-year growth trend.

The report marks the first decline in Kansas scores since the federal No Child Left Behind law was implemented in 2001.

The percentage of students performing in the top three levels on the reading assessment – meets standard, exceeds standard or exemplary – was 85.7 percent, down from 87.6 percent in 2011. In math, students in the top three levels totaled 83.7 percent, down one percentage point from 2011.

“Despite the decline in overall performance this year, Kansas students continue to perform very well on state assessments,” State Education Commissioner Diane DeBacker said in a prepared statement.

“It’s difficult to say with certainty what may have caused the performance declines. … Kansas educators are now engaged in the difficult work of moving our most challenged students into higher levels of performance.”

Wichita district officials did not comment on Tuesday’s announcement, saying they were reviewing the data.

For the most part, Wichita’s test-score trend echoed the state’s, with declines in six of seven grade levels that tested in reading and three of seven grades that tested in math. Wichita students continue to score below state averages.

On the 11th-grade math test, for example, only 61.4 students met the state standard, compared with 62.8 percent of Wichita students the previous year and 80.9 percent statewide.

Reading and math assessments are given each year to students in third through eighth grades and once in high school.

Statewide, scores also declined in science, which is tested in fourth grade, seventh grade and once in high school. Among Kansas high-schoolers, the percentage of students meeting the standard in science decreased by 3.1 percentage points, to 80.7 percent.

History/government assessments also showed declines when compared with 2008, the last year Kansas students were tested.

Also on Tuesday, state officials released a list of Kansas schools achieving the state Standard of Excellence at grade levels and building-wide. The award is given when a certain percentage of students in a school score in the top performance levels on the state tests.

Wichita schools this year received 141 awards, 23 fewer than last year, according to the data released Tuesday.

Reach Suzanne Perez Tobias at 316-268-6567 or stobias@wichitaeagle.com.

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