Student Success Measures

Posted by Dr. Frank Harwood, Superintendent on 3/31/2022 8:00:00 AM

Photograph of Superintendent Frank HarwoodMany conversations have recently taken place about the academic performance of students, not only in our school district, but across the state of Kansas and the country. While some of these discussions included the success of students in USD 232, the primary focus centered on student performance at the state level.

Most of our community knows the overall academic performance of our students is really quite good.  USD 232 consistently ranks among the best schools in the Kansas City metropolitan area and the state of Kansas, and regularly appears in competitive rankings at the national level. However, what does our performance as a school district mean for our students?  This article, along with more in the coming months, is intended to help families answer that question.  In this article, we address the Kansas Assessment Program. We hope you find this information helpful as your students will be taking the Kansas Assessments over the next several weeks.

Graphic logo for Kansas Assessment Program (KAP)Kansas Assessment Program (KAP)
A student’s performance in the KAP is expressed as a scale score. 

Definition: A scale score is a mathematical conversion of the number of points a student earned to a predetermined scale.  In the case of KAP, the scale is from 220 to 380.   

The purpose of a scale score is to measure student performance within a given grade level.  For this reason, it is helpful in comparing how the third grade, as a whole, performed in math this year as compared to last year’s third grade performance in math.  Although scale scores can help the district track system performance over time, they are not helpful in measuring individual student growth or comparing subject area performance as a group of students progresses through the grade levels. Link: For Families – Understanding Scale Scores, Performance Level Descriptors, and Cut Scores

Considering Individual Students
For individual students, the scale score is used to determine the student’s performance in one of four different levels:

  • Level 1 indicates that a student shows limited skills and knowledge needed for Postsecondary Readiness.
  • Level 2 indicates that a student shows basic skills and knowledge needed for Postsecondary Readiness.
  • Level 3 indicates that a student shows effective skills and knowledge needed for Postsecondary Readiness.
  • Level 4 indicates that a student shows excellent skills and knowledge needed for Postsecondary Readiness.

Logo for Kansas State Department of Education

Link: District and school report cards

Although the level descriptions offer some explanation, they do not provide much in the way of clarity.  The Kansas Department of Education has used student data over time to help use KAP scores as a predictor of performance on the ACT College Entrance Exam.

ACT Scoring

To get an idea of how your high school student may perform on the ACT based on the KAP score, refer to this chart. For more information, go to ksassessments.org/act

Student’s actual KAP grade 10 ELA score

Student’s projected ACT reading score

Student’s projected ACT English score

Level 1: 220-268

1-17

1-16

Level 2: 269-299

18-23

16-22

Level 3: 300-333

23-29

22-28

Level 4: 334-380

29-36

28-36

If a student scores at level three or four, they are making progress towards reaching the ACT benchmark for college readiness. 

Definition: The ACT benchmark is a predictor of receiving a B or higher in an introductory college course.  Students who score at level two meet grade level standards but may need additional effort or support to excel in college.  A student scoring at level one may need additional support to be successful with grade level material.

This background is interesting, but most families are more concerned about what these scores mean for their student.  When looking at your student’s KAP report, the scale score is helpful in comparing your student’s performance to the building, district and state.  This will give you an idea of how your student is performing in comparison to their peers.  The scale score and level can give you an idea of how they are progressing towards college readiness.

One Snapshot in Time
One important aspect to keep in mind is that the KAP is one test on one day.  Not every student performs their best on standardized tests and everyone can have an “off day.”  Please look at other performance indicators like FastBridge, PreACT and ACT, as well as course grades.  If you have questions or concerns about your student’s performance, please reach out to their teacher or counselor.

A District Perspective
From the district’s perspective, we look at KAP scores for the whole district, but also by building and grade level.  We do use scale scores to track each grade level’s performance in each subject area over time.  In looking at the annual average scale scores, there has not been a significant change for any grade level or subject area.  Although we would always like to see scores improving, this trend is not alarming due to the relative high performance of our students, on average.

We also look at the percentage of students that score in each performance category.  As a district, one measure of our academic goals is that 60-percent or more of our students score in categories three and four.  This would mean that more than 60-percent of our students are on track to earn a B or better in introductory college courses. 

Although we want 100-percent of students scoring in categories three and four, based on past performance, 60-percent is a reasonable goal at this time.  As with scale scores, the percentage of our students who score in categories three and four is relatively high.  However, a concerning trend is that the percentage scoring a three or four decreases at each grade level.  Although this is a statewide trend, it is something that we are working to address in USD 232.

Continuous Improvement
Teams of teachers in each school at every grade level are studying the curricular standards to see if there needs to be an adjustment to our curriculum, resources or methods.  This will not be a quick process, but over time we will find solutions.  In the meantime, we will continue to use additional measures of student performance to help your students achieve success.  Other measures that we use are FastBridge, PreACT, ACT and the Five Year Effectiveness rating

We will dive into these measures in future articles.  Our goal is to help parents better understand the measures of student progress we use to help improve our school system and promote individual student success.

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