Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Quality Counts Analysis Provides Narrow Measure of K-12 Achievement

The 20th annual edition of Quality Counts, entitled “Called to Account: New Directions in School Accountability” was released in late December.  The report provides an overall grade for each state based on three indices:  Chance for Success, School Finance, and K-12 Achievement.  The 2016 report gives Kansas an overall score of 73.9 and a grade of C, compared to the national average of 74.4 (also a C).  

KASB calculated the average scores for each of the comparison states we identified in earlier work to see how we stand up.  The following is the summary of those findings.  


Overall State Grade
Chance for Success
School Finance
K-12 Achievement

Grade
Total score
Grade
Total Score
Grade
Total Score
Grade
Total Score
U.S.
C
74.4
C+
77.8
C
74.6
C-
71.0
Kansas
C
73.9
B-
80.7
C
74.9
D
66.0
Aspiration
B-
80.8
B
86.1
C+
79.1
C+
77.4
Overall Peers
C
74.2
B-
79.7
C
73.5
D+
69.4
Student Peers
C
74.9
C+
78.9
C
75.8
C-
70.2
Population Peers
C
75.5
B-
80.8
C
75.0
C-
70.6
Distribution Peers
C
73.4
C+
78.9
C-
72.3
D+
69.1

As the table above shows, the aspiration states’ average total score was notably higher than Kansas’, but all other comparison groups were relatively close (but slightly higher with the exception of the Distribution Peers) than Kansas.  

Chance for Success

The “Chance for Success” grade is based on factors related to early foundations (family income, parent education, parental employment, and linguistic integration), school years (preschool enrollment, kindergarten enrollment, 4th grade NAEP reading percent proficient, 8th grade NAEP math percent proficient), high school graduation, and 18-24 postsecondary education), and adult outcomes (adult educational attainment, annual income, and steady employment).  This category combines things that KASB has treated as predictors of student outcomes and as student outcomes themselves, and also includes measures KASB has not previously used.  

Kansas’ score of 80.7 (B-) is higher than the national average, and higher than the score for the Overall Peers, Student Peers, and Distribution Peers groups.  It is almost equal to the score for Population Peers, and notably lower than that for Aspiration states.  This suggests that Kansas provides a better chance for student success than the U.S. as a whole and than states with similar populations.  

School Finance

The “School Finance” grade is based on factors related to equity (Wealth Neutrality, McLoone Index, Coefficient of Variation, and Restricted Range) and factors related to spending (per pupil expenditures, percent of students with PPE above the U.S. average, Spending Index, and percent of taxable resources spent on education).  Other than the per-pupil expenditures, KASB has not used any of these measures in its previous research.  

Kansas’ score of 74.9 (C) is almost equal to the national average of 74.6 (C), notably lower than the average for Aspiration states (79.1, C+), and in range of the peer comparison states (73.5 for Overall, 75.8 for Student, 75.0 for Population, and 72.3 for Distribution).  This suggests that Kansas’ school finance factors are very much in line with the nation and with similar states.  

K-12 Achievement

The “K-12 Achievement” grade is based entirely on NAEP results; including achievement level (percent proficient - reading and math - 4th and 8th grade), achievement gains (scale score change from 2003 to 2015 - reading and math - 4th and 8th grade), and poverty gap (NSLP ineligible score minus NSLP eligible score - 4th grade reading and 8th grade math, change in gap from 2003 to 2015 - 4th and 8th grade).  

KASB, noting the limitations of using NAEP data, also includes ACT and SAT results when considering Student Achievement.  Further, KASB uses the NAEP scores, percent at Basic and above, and percent at Proficient and above, rather than relying on a subset of these measures.  

Kansas’ score of 66.0 (D) is lower than the U.S. average of 71.0 (C-) and lower than the average for all comparison groups.  This is due largely to the change in scale score for Math from 2003 to 2015; where Kansas saw a loss when all comparison groups saw a gain.  Kansas data for 2015 also shows a much larger achievement gap based on poverty than any comparison group.

Summary

Based on the data an analysis in this report, Kansas performance is slightly below most of its peers and notably below the aspiration states.  Specifically, Kansas provides students a better chance for success, has school finance equity and spending similar to its comparison groups, and has notably lower student outcomes than its comparison groups.

However, this study uses only the NAEP assessment results to measure “K-12 Achievement” and does not take into consideration other standardized assessment results, graduation rates, or postsecondary enrollment and completion rates as measures of student success.  

For more data on Kansas and the state comparison groups, click here.  

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