Dec 222015

School Accountability – Kansas launched a new online tool this month meant to give the public a more thorough and convenient source of information on the performance and quality of their local schools and school districts.

The tool, which the department will hone and expand in coming years, can be found at Type in the name of a school or browse Kansas’ 286 unified school districts and 24 other private and specialized public school systems.

The database contains accredited private schools, such as Topeka’s Hayden High School, but not unaccredited private schools and home schools, which don’t participate in state tests or report other outcomes to Kansas State Department of Education.

After the user selects a district or school, the new site displays a dashboard with several measures. The Kansas State Department of Education expects to add more in the future. Current data includes:

■ The percentage of high school graduates who enroll in two- or four-year post-secondary institutions and technical colleges: Click the “College and Career Ready” box to view this data. One caveat — the data isn’t 100 percent accurate because a minority of post-secondary institutions don’t share enrollment information, making it difficult for the state to know whether Kansas high-schoolers enroll there.

■ Graduation, dropout and attendance rates

■ Comparative performance and fiscal data: This connects to a pre-existing tool where the public can generate data reports for factors like property taxes, instructional spending and test scores for districts and years that they select.

■ Teacher licensure: Shows what percent of teachers at a given school or district are “fully licensed,” meaning they are certified to teach the age and subject that they are teaching.

■ Student demographics

■ Math, English and science state test scores: Click the “Performance level reports” to view this. Kansas has overhauled its math and English tests with the goal of making them more rigorous, so scores shown here are different from past years. Score levels 3 and 4 show the percentage of students considered on track to being ready for college.

■ Annual Measurable Objectives: This will need multiple years of state test scores before it is fully up and running, and is therefore still a work in progress. Eventually the calculations will show, for example, whether schools are making progress with their lowest-scoring students, whether higher-scoring students also are making progress, and how the pace of progress at a given school compares to the rest of the state.

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