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Kansas gets a C for quality of education
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Kansas education quality report card. - photo by Courtsey image

Education Week, a news and analysis media has been reporting on education reform since the early 1980s.  Recently the media company released it’s 2014 Education Week Quality Counts report which ranks each state and Washington D.C. in order, awarding a letter grade to each state in each of six areas.  Kansas gets a C average.
The six areas include a student’s chance for success , K-12 achievement, school finance,
transitions and alignment, standards and accountability and the teaching profession.  While Kansas ranked middle of the road among the United States as a whole, compared to neighboring states it ranked in the top two or three in all areas except the teaching profession.
To address the challenges, 62 percent of Kansas administrators polled in an online survey conducted by Education Week, “...agreed that consolidating high- and low-poverty districts would be a sound approach for increasing equity in school funding and 53 percent believed the strategy would be likely to reduce racial or socioeconomic segregation.  But one-third or fewer thought mergers would be an effective way to reduce achievement gaps or raise student achievement.    
But most (four out of five) respondents felt state-run districts would be not improve student achievement or narrow achievement gaps.  

School finance
The school finance category consists of eight indicators,  half  of which the examine school spending patterns, with expenditures adjusted for differences in costs regionally or evaluated relative to the national average.  Here, Kansas receives a dismal score of 59.7 compared to the national average of 65.4.
The other half of the indicators measure equity, the distribution of funding across the state’s districts.  Here, the state is above average with a score of  88.8 compared to the average of 85.6.   This is actually a very bright spot for Kansas. According to results for the Wealth Neutrality indicator, just seven states—Alaska, Kansas, Nebraska, Nevada, Utah, West Virginia, and Wyoming—provide higher funding for poorer districts than for their wealthier peers.
According to Education Week, the equity and spending together offer a broad-based view of public school funding of K-12.  Kansas is one of five states that has declined two or more points since the previous report.  

Neb. -- 77  C
Kans.-- 74.2 C
Mo. -- 70.5  C
Colo. -- 68.6  D
Okla. -- 66.5  D

Chance for success
The chance for success category combines information from 13 indicators that span childhood through adulthood to capture three broad life stages: the early-childhood years, participation and performance in formal education, and educational attainment and workforce outcomes during adulthood.   
Neb.--83.1  B
Colo.--82.9  B
Kans.--81.9  B
Mo.-- 77.3  C
Okla. -- 72.2  C

K-12 achievement
For Kansas and it’s neighbors, there is a lot of room for improvement in the category of K-12 achievement.  The category is measured by outcomes in 18 key areas including AP scores, assessment test results, and high school graduation rates.  

Colo. -- 74.2  c
Kans. -- 68.4  D
Neb. -- 67.0  D
Mo. -- 66.0  D
Okla. -- 64.2  D

Transitions and alignment
Transitions and alignment is broken down into three categories, and in early-childhood education, Kansas shines with a score of 90, well above the nation’s average of 84.1.  However, some work is required in college readiness with a schore of 50, below the U.S. average of 69.2, and preparedness for the economy and workforce  score of 87.5 is close to the U.S. average of 92.2.  

Okla. -- 89.3  A-
Colo. -- 82.1   B
Kans. -- 75.0  C
Mo. -- 75.0  C
Neb. -- 64.3  D

Standards, assessments, and accountability is a three-pronged score too, and while Kansas is below the nation’s average in standards and assessments, it scores high in school accountability with a 90 compared to the average score of 85.3.

Okla. -- 93.3  A
Colo. -- 81.8  B
Kans. -- 81.2  B
Mo. -- 78.9  C
Neb. -- 67.6 D

Teaching profession
The troubling score in the category of teaching profession breaks down into three areas also.  In Kansas, the score for accountability for quality receives a score of 70.6 compared to the nation’s average of 74.5, while incentives and allocation are in the basement with a score of 61.5 compared to the average 70.4.  Building and supporting capacity is close to the average with a score of 70 to 72.6 respectively.  

Okla. -- 71.6 C
Neb. -- 69.8  D
Mo. -- 69.3  D
Kans. -- 67.4 D
Colo. -- 66.4 D

Kansas keeps company with 15 other states and the District of Columbia, with a gain of five points or more in the poverty gap, meaning poor students are further behind on 4th grade reading and 8th grade math assessments now than their more affluent peers compared to five years ago.