Kansas recommended to withhold annual school test scores

WICHITA, Kansas – After a series of technical glitches and cyber attacks on the state’s annual school testing program, the state may not release the results of the beta tests, to parents and/or schools. That is, the data collected from March 10 – May 16 for individual students and school districts, may not be strong enough to publicize.

“We’re not sure that the scores really are a valid representation of what students know and can do when they’re presented with a test under the best circumstances,” said Marianne Perie, the Director of the Center for Educational Testing and Evaluation at the University of Kansas. “We’re concerned the technology issues impacted their performance.”

The Center for Educational Testing and Evaluation, or CETE, told KSN that the greatest issues occurred at the beginning of the administration period, from March 10 – April 10. However, Perie said that usable data was collected from tests taken from April 11 – May 16.

According to CETE, during the first month of testing when a majority of the glitches occurred, from March 10 – April 10, only 84-86% of items were answered by students who said they finished the test.

During the next testing period, data improved. From April 11 – May 16, 96-98% of items were answered by students who said they finished the test.

“We really believe those scores are valid. We were getting good data. We were able to analyze our items and we can produce scores for those students. We are less confident in the data from that first month,” said Perie.

CETE does not recommend reporting test scores at any level other than the state level.

“We don’t want to release partial student test scores, or partial school, or partial district,” said Perie. “It doesn’t seem to us that it is fair to say, ‘We’ll release test scores only for kids who started their assessment on or after April 11.’ That would mean about two-thirds of the ELA test scores would not be released and about one-third of math test scores would not be released,” she continued.

The Kansas Assessment Advisory Council also made that recommendation. In a letter to the Kansas Department of Education, the council advised the state to “avoid providing information from this transitional test that could be construed as evaluative of student learning.”

Click this link to read the letter in its entirety: KAAC Request on 2014 Reporting Results

The glitches, however, were not entirely unexpected.

“This was a pilot year, so we knew we were going to have some issues,” said Kathy Busch, the representative for District 8 at the Kansas State Board of Education. “The test items themselves have proven to be pretty good, it was just the technology that we have a lot of issues to work through,” Busch added.

Some Kansans are concerned about the results of next year’s tests because they will not be “beta examinations.”

KSN spoke with Deena Burnett with United Teachers of Wichita last month regarding the testing glitches.

“I would be nervous if I was in charge of the testing scenario for the state of Kansas,” expressed Burnett.

However, CETE and the state of Kansas remains optimistic about next year’s testing product.

“It’ll be better next year and it’ll actually test on the current standards versus the old standards,” said Busch.

“We learned a lot at CETE, but also the districts and the schools learned a lot about technology needs and how to make sure this runs much better next year,” said Perie. “We got a lot of good data back on the items. We really can use a lot of the data. We {can} look at the items and say what needs to be improved, what we can throw out, what worked well as is, and that’ll help us make the best test form possible for next year,” said Perie.

The recommendation is not a finalized decision. The Kansas State Department of Education will make a formal recommendation to the state board to vote on next month.

To learn more about the Center for Educational Testing and Evaluation at the University of Kansas, click here.

RELATED LINKS:

State to assess testing issues before next year
School districts respond to statewide testing issues
Kansas testing pushes on despite problems
State assessment tests hit by cyber attacks

Kansas State Department of Education

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