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New Kansas Tests Draw Support, Raise Concerns

Stephen Koranda

New state tests for Kansas students are garnering praise but also raising some concerns. Scores released this week show most Kansas 10th graders likely won’t be ready for college without some remedial coursework.

The Kansas Association of School Boards supports use of the new tests because they set higher goals for students than in the past. Mark Tallman, with the KASB, says not every student may want to go to college. For those kids who want to attend a university, this can help them determine if they’re on the right track.

“Help parents, students, teachers and everyone else do a better job of planning earlier what a child wants to do and then setting an appropriate curriculum and an appropriate plan to make that happen,” Tallman says.

Republican state Rep. Ron Highland, who chairs the House Education Committee, says he’s concerned because the new tests aren’t comparable to old tests, so there won’t be identifiable student trends for several years.

“I don’t really have a problem with the testing and making sure our students are qualified and so forth, but at the state level–and at the parent level–we all want to know where they are, where they’ve been, are they improving or are they not?” Highland says.

Highland says he expects lawmakers will hold hearings in the upcoming legislative session to learn more about the new tests and scores.

Stephen Koranda is Statehouse reporter for Kansas Public Radio and the Kansas News Service, a collaboration of KCUR, KMUW, Kansas Public Radio and High Plains Radio covering health, education and politics.