Opinion Columns & Blogs

Students are succeeding

This commentary was submitted by school superintendents John Allison, Wichita; Tom Alstrom, Cheney; Tracy Bourne, Renwick; John Burke, Haysville; Randal Chickadonz, Rose Hill; Mark A. Evans, Andover; Sue Givens, El Dorado; Justin Henry, Goddard; Jim Keller, Circle; Doug Powers, Maize; Mike Roth, Clearwater; Scott Springston, Valley Center; and Craig Wilford, Derby.

Like almost all Kansans, we in south-central Kansas are proud of the quality of our public schools. We have outstanding teachers and staff members who work hard to provide the students of Kansas the best possible education. These professionals continue to provide a positive atmosphere for students even in the wake of budget cuts.

Knowing how hard our teachers and staff members work to help students succeed makes it difficult to understand why misleading information is used in an effort to discredit our students’ achievement.

You may have heard recently about ads that ran across the state and included data that was used out of context, completely misrepresenting the truth. Students performing in the top three of Kansas’ five performance levels on state assessments are considered “proficient.” The ad only listed the top two levels, leaving out any students who “meet standards.” The Kansas Policy Institute publicized data giving the impression that scores are low but completely omitted one of the three categories that make up proficiency scores.

This omission distorted the real and good news about Kansas public achievement scores. As Kansas Education Commissioner Diane DeBacker wrote in a recent commentary, performance trends on state assessments show that we are moving in the right direction. “Since 2001, the percentage of students statewide who perform in the top three levels on state reading assessments has jumped from about 60 percent to more than 87 percent,” she wrote. “In math, the jump has been from just more than 54 percent to nearly 85 percent” (March 20 Opinion).

Contact your school or visit ksde.org to find your school’s data and see for yourself. Call your principal or superintendent to discuss achievement scores. Go into the buildings and see what our students are learning. Kansas schools welcome partners who are interested in helping our students and staff to succeed.

The bottom line is this: Our students are achieving. In fact if you look at other measures, including the ACT, Kansas is always in the top 10 (or top five) of all 50 states. Kansas is continuing to see a steady increase in student performance, and our students and staff are succeeding, regardless of information suggesting otherwise.