TOPEKA, Kansas – Kansas won’t be issuing any report cards this year on how well its public school students performed on standardized reading and math tests after cyberattacks and other problems this spring, the state Board of Education decided Tuesday.
The board’s decision means there won’t be a report on how students scored overall statewide or how students in each school district or individual schools scored. The state typically releases such reports each fall to help the public judge how well Kansas’ schools are performing.
The U.S. Department of Education still must sign off on the state’s decision, but interim state education commissioner Brad Neuenswander said he’s confident federal officials will accept the reasons for not reporting results.
The University of Kansas center that designed the tests told the board last month that it should not release data for individual schools and districts because of problems administering the tests from March 10 to April 10.
KU’s Center for Educational Testing and Evaluation doesn’t know the exact source of the cyberattacks, though director Marianne Perie said some of them appeared to originate overseas. Schools saw other technical problems as well, such as students not seeing complete test questions or being unable to complete tests.
Board member Jim McNiece, a Wichita Republican, called the situation “a disaster.” Board member John Bacon, an Olathe Republican, said the state needs such testing to hold schools accountable and measure student progress.
“If we get attacked again, then what?” he asked.
Several board members also said this year was only pilot tests, as the center designed them so they followed multistate, Common Core academic standards that were approved by the board in 2010. The computerized tests moved away from multiple-choice questions and toward open-ended problems.
The state still plans to release general information other than scores. For example, it may make general assessments about areas in which students appear to be performing well and topics where they struggle.
Perie told board members that she understands their frustrations, but that there is no foolproof testing system. For example, she said, boxes of paper test results have been lost this year.