Kansas Assessment Letter

March 24, 2006

Honorable Bob Corkins
Commissioner of Education
Kansas State Department of Education
120 SE 10th Avenue
Topeka, KS 66612-1182

Dear Commissioner Corkins:

Thank you for submitting Kansas’ assessment materials for review under the standards and assessment requirements of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), as amended by the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB). We appreciate the efforts required to prepare for the peer review and hope that the process provides useful feedback that will support Kansas’ efforts to monitor student progress toward challenging standards.

External peer reviewers and U.S. Department of Education (ED) staff evaluated Kansas’ submission and found, based on the evidence received, that it did not meet all the statutory and regulatory requirements of Section 1111(b)(3) of the ESEA. I know that my staff has discussed the results of this review with your staff. However, I want to take this opportunity to enumerate the evidence that Kansas must provide in order to have a fully compliant standards and assessment system under NCLB. That evidence is listed on the last pages of this letter.

I urge you to submit any available evidence demonstrating how the system meets the standards and assessment requirements as soon as possible. I also request that, as soon as possible, you provide us a plan, including a detailed timeline, for how Kansas will meet any remaining requirements. When Kansas has submitted this additional evidence and plan, the peer reviewers and ED staff will review it. My staff will work with you to schedule a second peer review as soon as possible. After that review, I will then determine the appropriate approval status for Kansas’ standards and assessment system.

Enclosed with this letter are detailed comments from the peer review team that evaluated Kansas’ assessment materials. The peer reviewers, experts in the areas of standards and assessment, review and discuss a State’s submission of evidence and prepare a consensus report. I hope you will find the reviewers’ comments and suggestions helpful.

We look forward to working with Kansas to support a high-quality assessment system. If you would like to discuss this further, please do not hesitate to call Sue Rigney (202-260-0931) or Patrick Rooney (202-205-8831) of my staff.



Henry L. Johnson


CC: Judi Miller
Alexa Posny

Summary of Additional Evidence that Kansas Must Submit to Meet ESEA Requirements for the Kansas Assessment System


Kansas meets this requirement; no additional evidence is needed. According to statute, Kansas developed and will review content standards every three years; the process includes diverse committees and public hearings.


  1. Provide evidence of performance level descriptors for reading, mathematics, and science that reflect knowledge and skills at each performance level.
  2. Provide evidence that achievement standards were set for the regular assessment, the alternate assessment, and the KAMM, with an accurate description of the procedures used, including qualifications of participants.
  3. Provide evidence of adoption by the State Board of the achievement standards for reading and mathematics for the regular assessment, the alternate assessment, and the KAMM.


  1. Provide evidence of comparability at the proficient level among the regular test in paper and pencil format, in computer format, and in Spanish translation. The comparison must be based on performance at the proficient cut scores to demonstrate that all students, except those taking the Kansas Alternate Assessment or the KAMM, are being held to the same achievement standards.
  2. Provided evidence of challenging content in the reading and mathematics assessments administered in 2005-06.


  1. Provide documentation of completed studies that include item interrelationships and structural consistency, criterion validity, and standard setting.
  2. Provide a detailed plan and timeline for completion of data collection designed to address consequential validity.
  3. Provide documentation of test specifications that would support the construction of comparable test forms across different formats.
  4. Provide additional information on the administration, training, and scoring processes for the KAA.
  5. Provide reliability data for the KAA (the alternate assessment based upon alternate achievement standards).
  6. Provide information regarding criteria for the administration, scoring, analysis, and reporting for the KAMM.
  7. Provide evidence of how the State monitors and evaluates the availability of accommodations during testing, for students with disabilities and limited-English-proficient students.
  8. Provide reliability data for all assessments, including score reliability at the cut points.
  9. Provide comprehensive technical manuals that provide technical quality documentation for the general assessments and all alternate assessments.
  10. Provide evidence that the translated mathematics assessment is comparable to the English version of this assessment and measures grade-level expectations for mathematics.


  1. Provide evidence that the State has test specifications that are detailed and can support creation of test forms that are comparable over time, comprehensively represent the target indicators on any test form, are aligned with the content and skills aspects of its content standards, reflect the same degree and pattern of emphasis as are reflected in the State’s content standards, and reflect the knowledge and skills represented in its achievement standards.
  2. Provide detailed plans and a timeline for conducting an external, independent alignment study.
  3. Provide information regarding the potential inclusion of constructed-response items on test forms and how the inclusion of these items is expected to affect alignment with the target standards.
  4. Provide evidence of how the State identified its assessed indicators.
  5. Clarify how the KAA is aligned comprehensively with the standards in each content area.
  6. Clarify how the Kansas Extended Standards represent alternate achievement standards when they do not include performance level descriptors.
  7. Provide an explanation of why functional indicators are represented in the extended standards document and how the inclusion of these indicators improves access to the general academic curriculum at the student’s grade level.
  8. Provide detailed description of the process, including participants, used to develop the Kansas Extended Standards.
  9. Provide detailed plans and a timeline for identifying the cut scores associated with the State’s alternate academic achievement standards.


  1. Clarify the State’s process for determining how students participate in the assessment system, including the State’s exemption policies, guidelines for identifying students to take the KAA and the KAMM, and training for Individualized Educational Plan (IEP) teams.
  2. Provide evidence that the KAMM is based on grade-level content standards.
  3. Clarify that all limited English proficient (LEP) students are assessed against grade-level expectations in reading and mathematics.
  4. Clarify that LEP students are tested in English after they have been enrolled in schools in the United States for three consecutive years.


  1. Provide evidence that all disaggregated groups are represented on school, district, and State assessment reports and that the number enrolled is also included.
  2. Provide evidence that parents are informed when a child’s achievement is based on alternate achievement standards.
  3. Provide a sample student report along with explanatory information provided to help parents understand the results.
  4. Provide a draft group report providing itemized score analyses by subdomains or standards.

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