April 6 – Wichita – Kansas Policy Institute released their annual A-F Grading Report Card this week. This project utilizes state assessment results from the Kansas Department of Education to help break down the performance of each school. The updated grading report is for the 2021 school year and scores 1,273 public schools, and 122 state-accredited private schools in Kansas.
James Franko, President of Kansas Policy Institute says, “A-F grading is a helpful one-stop-shop to get a clear picture of what performance looks like across the state. Parents, citizens, and policymakers need to be enabled with accurate information that brings attention to the stagnant performance of too many of our schools and showcases the K-12 schools that demonstrate achievement gains.”
The grades were lower in 2021 than in 2019. Both public and private schools showed an increase in the rate of “D” and “F” grades. In the newly released data for 2021, the most common grade earned is a “C,” with just under half of both public and private schools earning that grade. As former public school teacher and KPI Senior Education Policy fellow and others have pointed out, some decline in student achievement was expected as a result of COVID-related school closures.
Private schools in Kansas outperformed public schools, with 4 in 10 private schools scoring a “B” or higher, while just over 8% of public schools scored the same. Around 15% of private schools earned a “D” or an “F” grade while 44.6% of public schools earned the bottom two grades. As shown by KPI’s Dorsey, low-income students in Kansas private schools outperform their public school counterparts.
Franko continued, “Too much of the education debate treats our kids like dollar signs while both achievement gaps and overall mediocrity are ignored. Our hope is that this presentation and analysis of the state-produced data not only makes the data accessible to parents, but also offers accountability.”
This new report shows achievement declines as K-12 students advance in their education careers, indicating that a lack of early mastery means that students fall further behind as the years progress.
The 2021 data also displays per-pupil spending at the building level which provides evidence that spending and student achievement are not related.
Franko concluded, “It’s imperative we work to solve the student achievement crisis while acknowledging that no silver bullet exists. If kids are not finding the opportunities they deserve, they need the chance to find alternatives that help them achieve.”