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New Kansas Tests Show Most 10th Graders Not on Track for College Success

Board of Education Chairman Jim McNiece speaking to reporters. (Photo by Stephen Koranda)
Board of Education Chairman Jim McNiece speaking to reporters. (Photo by Stephen Koranda)

New test scores released today (TUE) show only a quarter of Kansas 10th graders have the math skills needed to be ready for college or a career after graduation. Around a third of 10th graders were shown to have English skills that place them on the college track.


The goal of the new tests is to better judge if students will be ready for college or a job after high school. Board of Education Chairman Jim McNiece says this year's scores may not be as high as some people had hoped, but board members chose to set high goals for the state's students.

“We want our students to perform at a higher level. We want our schools and teachers to challenge students at a higher level. All students, not just the best and the brightest. That’s our goal,” says McNiece.
The test results showed some 40 percent of 10 th grade students performing at grade level, but below the college-ready track. McNiece says those students could still succeed in college, but might be in need of remedial courses.
The new tests are focused more on critical thinking skills and less on multiple-choice questions. Scores are expected to climb in the coming years as students and teachers get used to the new tests.


A new set of Kansas tests shows around three quarters of 10 th graders are performing at or above grade level. However, only a fourth of those students have the math skills needed to succeed in college or a career. For reading skills, only a third of 10 th graders are on the college track. KPR’s Stephen Koranda reports.

Members of the Kansas Board of Education say the scores may seem low, but they set the bar high. The new test is more difficult and it’s focused on judging critical thinking skills. Education Commissioner Randy Watson says this marks a change.

“Measuring something that we never measured before, are you academically ready to be college and career ready? We spent the last decade talking about proficiency. It’s a much different level,” says Watson.

Officials expect scores to improve as teachers focus on the tougher standards and students get used to the new tests.

Younger students actually did better. Officials say that could be because those students received most of their education under the more rigorous common core standards adopted in 2010.

Stephen Koranda is KPR's Statehouse reporter.