••• Education, Education Research •••

KPI presents 2022 edition of the A-F grading for Kansas public and private schools

The 2022 A-F grading of Kansas public and private schools is now available online, in PDF, and in printed form (available on request). The 2022 edition includes grades for 1,269 total public and private schools, based on the most recently available state assessments.

The table below summarizes the distribution of grades for those 1,269 schools. Note that only 2 schools earned an “A”, public school Marais des Cygnes Elementary (USD 456) and private school Brookridge Day School. Once again, private schools outperformed their public school counterparts. A much higher percentage of private schools than public schools earned a grade of “B” and private schools had a much lower rate of schools earning a “D” or “F.” Indeed, 13% of public schools got a “B” compared to 58% of private schools. Only 10% of private schools got a “D” or “F” while 46% of their public school counterparts received the same score. There are lots of differences in public and private schools that make comparisons difficult. However, as we’ve discussed before, when making the nearest apples-to-apples (i.e., low-income students in both settings) comparisons private school students outperform their public peers.

This grading system began in 2017 and has been produced annually, save 2020 when Governor Kelly shut down the schools during the pandemic. The purpose of the A-F grading system is to give parents an easy-to-understand “one-stop-shopping” system of how schools are actually performing. The Kansas State Department of Education (KSDE) publishes a “Report Card” on its website, but one must navigate through a myriad of indicators, and there is no grade-based summary for each school. KSDE employs such benign terms as “limited”, “basic”, “effective”, and “excellent” to describe a student’s state assessment scores. But what does that really mean?

KPI takes those state assessment results reported by KSDE and translates raw scores (which range from 220 to 380 for math and for English language arts – ELA) into letter grades. (A full methodology outline, data, and definitions is available on the A-F Grading home page.) This process gives a more concrete explanation of those results.

A-F grading on the website contains an abundance of data in addition to a school’s overall letter grade. Included are: a pin mapping system that shows the location of each school, contact information, enrollment, per-pupil spending, grade-level grades for both low-income and other students, % of low-income students and proficiency rates for both math and English language arts (ELA).

This reporting system continues to provide opportunities to explore questions surrounding the issue of school performance. Why do some schools continue to out-perform others? Why does the education establishment continue to lobby for more money when it is clear from this data that spending and school performance are not related?

The A-F Grading system is also important because it reveals the real state of performance of Kansas schools. While the state board of education and KSDE leads us to believe that “Kansas leads the world in the success of each student,” this KPI presentation and analysis of state-produced data tells a much different story regarding student achievement. In a world that is increasingly distrustful of bureaucratic government information (and rightfully so), it is essential to have independent voices like KPI’s to monitor and document realities. A-F Grading continues to be one such document.