Grades for Kansas schools show continued decline in 2023

(The Sentinel) — The new “A-F Grading for Kansas Schools,” based on 2023 state assessment scores, shows nearly half of Kansas public schools earned a “D” or “F” grade, and overall results are the worst in history.

A-F Grading for Kansas Schools; public school results

A traditional grade point average (4 points for an “A” down to zero for an “F”) produces a GPA of just 1.54 for all schools and 1.13 for Kansas public high schools.  There are 1,178 public schools with reportable state assessment results for the 2023 “A-F Grading for Kansas Schools.”

The online publication, available at, is produced yearly by Kansas Policy Institute (KPI), which owns The Sentinel.  “A-F Grading for Kansas Schools” translates state assessment results from Levels 1-4 into universally understood labels — A, B, C, D, AND F.

The Kansas Department of Education likes to say that “Kansas leads the world in the success of each student,” but that has never been true.  “A-F Grading for Kansas Schools” uses KSDE cut scores and definitions.  For example, since KSDE says students scoring in Level 4 have an excellent understanding of grade-level material and are academically prepared for college and career, scores in Level 4 are given an “A.”  Level 3 is also considered academically prepared with an effective understanding of grade-level material, so those scores are given a “B.”  Scores in Level 2 indicate just basic understanding and are not considered academically prepared; the top half of Level 2 is given a “C,” and the bottom half gets a “D.”  Level 1 scores get an “F,” indicating a limited understanding of grade-level material.

A letter grade is assigned for low-income students and for those who are not low-income in Math and English Language Arts for each grade tested (grades 3-8 and 10) and then weighted equally to determine the overall grade for each school.

Private schools do better on “A-F Grading for Kansas Schools”

Private schools that take the state assessment were added to “A-F Grading for Kansas Schools” in 2019 and have consistently performed better than public schools as a group.  The private school average for all grades tested is 2.39 for 2023, compared to 1.54 for public schools.  Only 13% of public schools earned a “B,” compared to 60% of private schools; 49% of public schools got a “D” or an “F” but only 17% of private schools.

The three schools achieving an “A” deserve mention: Timber Creek Elementary School and Mission Trail Elementary School, both in the Blue Valley (USD 229) district, and St. Patrick Catholic Elementary School in Parsons.

Only nine public high schools and two private high schools received a “B” (there are no “A” high schools): USD 113 Axtell,  USD 229 Blue Valley Northwest and Blue Valley West, USD 243 Lebo, USD 266 Maize Virtual Prep, USD 411 Goessel, USD 477 Ingalss, USD 492 Flinthills, USD 500 Kansas City Sumner Academy of Arts & Science, in the Kansas City Catholic Diocese, St. James Academy and St. Thomas Aquinas.

David Dorsey, Senior Education Policy Fellow with KPI, says the annual report requires education leaders to answer tough questions:

“This reporting system continues to provide opportunities to explore questions surrounding the issue of school performance. Why do some schools continue to outperform 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?”

A printed copy of this report will be available soon. E-mail to request a copy.

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