Report: Kansas test results average

TOPEKA — A federal report released Thursday places Kansas academic standards near the middle of the pack when compared with a benchmark national test.

Thursday's report by the National Center for Education Statistics, a division of the U.S. Department of Education, looked at test results from 2005 and 2007 from 47 states.

The report compared state achievement levels with achievement levels on the National Assessment of Education Progress, also considered a national report card of progress.

States were ranked as proficient, basic or below basic when the standards were analyzed to determine their relative score on the 500-point NAEP test scale.

It found that Kansas was one of 24 states that placed below basic when comparing state fourth-grade math and reading standards with the NAEP test. At the eighth grade, Kansas was one of 29 states placing at the basic level in math and reading.

Beth Fultz, Kansas Department of Education coordinator for the NAEP program, said the report suggests that Kansas students are doing well on both the state tests and the NAEP test.

"There isn't any reason to think that we need to change our standards at this point," Fultz said.

Overall, the report's authors suggest that states are setting the bar for their academic standards low, partly in response to the national goal of having all students proficient in math and reading by 2014. The report looked at NAEP scores for fourth and eighth grade.

It found that many states deemed children to be proficient or on grade level when they would rate below basic or lacking even partial mastery of reading and math under the NAEP standards.

Mark Tallman, a spokesman for the Kansas Association of School Boards, said the report is indicative of how high Kansas has set the bar for student achievement.

Kansas students historically have scored well on the NAEP exams, he said, which would indicate that state standards are aligned to what the federal agency deems important for students to know. However, setting high standards doesn't mean high achievement without adequate resources, namely time and money.