Talk to parents or boosters in a town like Paola or Louisburg or Tonganoxie, and they are likely to tell you that their local high school is “excellent” and that their students, like those at Lake Wobegon, are comfortably “above average.”

Educators repeat this to the parents, and parents repeat this to themselves often enough that they believe it. They shouldn’t.

Paola High has a first class weight room.

In truth, the high schools in the above cities are not only not excellent, they are not even average. The Kansas Policy Institute (KPI), using state assessment data generated by the Kansas Assessment Program (KAP), has given each of these schools a deeply troubling overall grade of D.

The schools in Piper, Spring Hill, and Gardner-Edgerton do only slightly better. Each gets an overall grade of C. As poorly as the students in these schools collectively do in English Language Arts (ELA), they do even worse in math.

There is generally a correlation between the percentage of low income students at the school and the overall grade, but these schools defy the correlation. All are solidly middle-class. None has more than 32 percent low-income students. They have no excuses.

Louisburg High has a good volleyball program.

A school by school breakdown:

Paola High has 615 students, 28 percent of whom qualify as low income.  25 percent are college and career ready in ELA, 17 percent in math.

Low-income Grade 10 students received a F in ELA and a F in math. Other students received a C in ELA and a D in math. The overall 2017 Grade for Paola High was D . The overall 2016 Grade was D. 

Gardner-Edgerton High has 1561 students, 32 percent qualify as low income. 41 percent are college and career ready in ELA, 25 percent in math.

Low-income Grade 10 students received a D in ELA and a D in math. Other students received a C in ELA and a C in math. The overall 2017 Grade for Gardner Edgerton was C . The overall 2016 Grade was D. 

Piper High has 602 students, 19 percent qualify as low income. 44 percent are college and career ready in ELA, 26 percent in math.

Low-income Grade 10 students received a C in ELA and a D in math. Other students received a C in ELA and a C in math. The overall 2017 Grade for Piper was C . The overall 2016 Grade was C. 

Louisburg High has 568 students, 18 percent qualify as low income. 41 percent are college and career ready in ELA, 27 percent in math.

Low-income Grade 10 students received a D in ELA and a F in math. Other students received a C in ELA and a C in math. The overall 2017 Grade for Louisburg was D. The overall 2016 Grade was D.

Spring Hill High has 700 students, 22 percent qualify as low income. 43 percent are college and career ready in ELA, 37 percent in math.

Low-income Grade 10 students received a C in ELA and a D in math. Other students received a C in ELA and a C in math. The overall 2017 Grade for Spring Hill was C . The overall 2016 Grade was C. 

Tonganoxie High has 612 students, 30 percent qualify as low income. 38 percent are college and career ready in ELA, 26 percent in math.

Low-income Grade 10 students received a D in ELA and a F in math. Other students received a C in ELA and a D in math. The overall 2017 Grade for Tonganoxie was D. The overall 2016 Grade was D. 

Tonganoxie High gets an A in football!

Conclusions: The high schools in Paola, Louisburg and Tonganoxie are sufficiently weak that citizens should demand an outside assessment of why they are doing such a poor job educating their students.

The schools in Piper, Spring Hill, and Gardner-Edgerton have nothing to brag about. Spring Hill High is particularly worrisome in that one of its elementary schools, Prairie Creek, received an A grade from KPI and is the best performing school in the state. Parents should wonder what happens to those students once they get to high school.

In general, the Kansas legislature and the State Supreme Court should not even think of asking for more money for these schools until educators come to understand the reasons these schools perform so poorly with what they have.

 

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