State to assess testing issues before next year

WICHITA, Kansas — The state assessment test for Kansas school kids this year is billed as a better test. Computerized. More comprehensive. Interactive.

But it’s been plagued with problems. And, with the end of the school year upon us, not all students got to complete the test.

“We did have some schools that just did not complete the testing at this point,” says USD 259 spokeswoman Susan Arensman. “And there have been a number of problems with the test.”

Goddard schools is sending the state feedback.

“There was so much commotion going on in the classrooms,” says Teresa San Martin, Assistant Superintendent Academic Affairs at Goddard. “Practice tests did not properly show how to take the test… We do have a small group of us across the state who are going to meet with our state department of education.”

That meeting will be June 3rd, where they will show what went wrong and what went right.

Some leaders with the United Teachers of Wichita, say the test has to be ready to go next year.

“Yes, this was a beta testing year, so the results do not count,” says Deena Burnett with the United Teachers of Wichita. “I would be nervous if I was in charge of the testing scenario for the state of Kansas.”

Burnett says the testing criteria from the state department of education came out late in the game, because of lawmaker decisions. Then, she says, there was a scramble to get it ready.

“They’ve done a pretty good job at scrambling, but it’s been tough. The test has not been a smashing success,” says Burnett. “The challenges next year won’t be as significant as this year.”

But this year, some teachers had a tough time with the test.

“We had glitches throughout,” explains San Martin. “We kept all of our logs. For example, you might have a 4th grade student who started early with English language arts reading in March, and maybe zero to ten percent of those tests would be considered valid or reliable.”

Issues included students being kicked out of the test, or not being able to log into the system. Other teachers say they saw students give one answer, but the system would credit them with a different answer.

So, some school leaders hope that feedback will help the state fix the glitch.

“We will show them what we have seen,” says San Martin. “I really think they will have this thing ready to go, live, next year. But we have to give them feedback.”

“We can’t do another beta test next year. That’s not an option,” says Burnett. “I don’t think we want to subject our kids to yet another opportunity for testing. We’re not teaching if we’re testing. We’re not. And that’s why we are here. We’re here to be teaching.”

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