After posting significant gains in proficiency rates in English Language Arts (ELA) and Mathematics from spring 2018 to spring 2019, Kansas City, Kansas Public Schools (KCKPS) has yet another positive report to celebrate. The district’s December interim assessments showed even more movement in both subjects: announce unprecedented gains in English Language Arts (ELA) and Mathematics based on a report from the interim assessment data.
From Spring 2018 to Spring 2019, Kansas Assessment Program (KAP) scores showed a year over year increase of 4.3% in English Language Arts and 6.2% in Math.
Last month, the KAP interim scores showed an additional 2.7% gain in math for a total gain of 7.0% and an additional gain of 5.9% in math for a total gain of 12.1%. Math scores for the district have more than doubled from 2016 to 2020, the district said.
“The interim assessment shows continued progression moving students out of the lowest performance level and ensuring more students are ‘On Track’ to being proficient,” said Superintendent of Schools Dr. Charles Foust. “Most importantly, this shows the positive results of what focused leadership can do in each school throughout the district.”
The state of Kansas provides interim assessments three times during the school year to forecast student performance on the spring summative assessment. The assessment helps schools identify areas where professional development can help improve teaching and learning. While data is encouraging, the district recognizes there is still much work to be done to ensure that each and every student is making academic progress towards proficiency and being "On Track" for college and career readiness.
Foust was hired in 2018 as the turnaround superintendent. Prior to coming to KCK, he’d turned around individual schools in Houston. The district needed a change, and the stream of consistently improving test scores is beginning to look like more than a blip, and like real positive change.
“Foust’s turnaround plan calls for closely looking at data to determine where the district is underperforming and to create curricula aligned with state standards. Regular professional development sessions give teachers the opportunity to share best instructional practices with one another,” the Kansas Leadership Center Journal reported.
“We are bringing our principals in monthly and keeping them all day and training them,” Foust told Kansas News Service.
Instructional improvement officers have been placed in each school to work with principals and administrators and provide feedback to teachers, Foust said.
He said the biggest challenge in making these changes has been convincing the students that they can succeed in academics. “Once you start to face it, then you can do it,” he said. Also a challenge was “our teachers not realizing they have the skill sets to do it.”
The rate of improvement in the KCK district was greater than that in Wichita and Topeka, Foust said. Both Wichita and Topeka are ahead of KCK in their total percentage of proficiency. Wichita was at 23%, Topeka 25% and the state, 36%. The state’s long-term goal is 75% student proficiency by 2030.
With 80% of students still not measuring as proficient, Foust said, "We agree we are nowhere near where we need to be, but we are on the right road to get there."