TOPEKA — The University of Kansas was awarded a $22 million, four-year grant today to create a new system to measure the academic progress of special education students.
The federal grant is the largest ever received by KU. The lead researcher behind the program said he hopes the work will someday transform how public schools test the progress of all students.
"With this grant, the University of Kansas has an opportunity to improve the quality of education received by countless children throughout this country," said KU Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little.
Eleven states, including Missouri and Kansas, plan to use the new assessment tool system to gauge how well special education students are learning. Rather than a single test at the end of the year, the system will evaluate how well a student is learning throughout the school year.
The funds will go toward the university's Center for Educational Testing and Evaluation, led by Neal Kingston. University officials announced the grant this afternoon at a meeting of the Kansas Board of Education.
Too often, Kingston said, education focuses on the assessment tests at the expense of actual education. Kingston said his goal is to incorporate assessment into the learning process.
"If we're successful, as I hope and expect we will be, there won't be a big assessment at the end of the year," Kingston said.
He noted that while the work now is focused on special education students, it could be "an excellent model for all students. It's a logical next step."