Kansas officials have doubts about releasing much of the results from statewide math and reading tests taken by public school students earlier this year because of glitches in the computerized testing system and cyberattacks.
Acting Education Commissioner Brad Neuenswander and State Board of Education members said Wednesday that they believe statewide results still will be valid, though the set of data would be smaller than in years past. But they said data for individual students, schools and school districts might not be solid enough to make public.
The Center for Educational Testing and Evaluation at the University of Kansas advised state school board members Tuesday that they should not release data for individual schools and districts. The biggest problems occurred with testing from March 10 to April 10.
The state Department of Education typically releases the data each fall, so that parents and other taxpayers can see how well students are scoring. Federal law requires the annual testing, and the state has used the results to assess how well schools are performing.
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This spring, the state did a pilot run of new tests from the University of Kansas center designed to align testing with new, multistate academic standards approved by the board in 2010. The new computerized tests move away from multiple-choice questions and toward open-ended problems.
State board member Ken Willard, a Hutchinson Republican, said it doesn’t seem right for the state to release results for districts and schools and “put some good schools in an awkward situation simply because technology failed them.”
“There’s so much weight in people’s minds and in the media about whether a school is a good or a failing school, based on those assessments,” Willard said.
The State Board of Education expects to vote next month on how much of the results to release. If the state board seeks to withhold data, the U.S. Department of Education must sign off.
Neuenswander said statewide data still would be valid in assessing student performance because there would be enough solid test results after problematic results are weeded out. But he added that if districts had problems at some schools, they wouldn’t be able to compare results between buildings and perhaps might not have enough solid data districtwide to make valid conclusions.
“I think what we really wanted to get out of the testing this year was the fact that each school could connect and get on and run a test,” said board member Sally Cauble, a Republican from Liberal. “Now we’ve got to figure some way of letting the teachers see what they would get without them actually using it to make decisions about the student, or the parent making decisions about the student.”