McPherson USD 418 hosted a gathering Friday to discuss state assessments with Kansas educators.

McPherson USD 418 hosted a gathering Friday to discuss state assessments with Kansas educators.

The event, called the College and Career Ready Summit, brought in 150 superintendents, curriculum directors, principals and teachers from across the state. The intent was to foster discussion of test elements used for state assessments and become more informed about changes of those assessments in the future.

State assessments will change for Kansas schools for the 2014-2015 school year.

Currently the state uses the Kansas Computerized Assessment, and schools must receive a waiver from that requirement to use an alternative test, as USD 418 has done in recent years.

The state Board of Education will change what tests are required for the 2014-2015 school year, but it is uncertain what the new test will be.

What is known, however, is the change will follow the board's new definition of “college and career ready,” which was passed within the last year. The definition is as follows: “College and Career Ready means an individual has the academic preparation, cognitive preparation, technical skills, and employability skills to be successful in postsecondary education, in the attainment of an industry recognized certification or in the workforce, without the need for remediation.”

Angie McDonald, USD 418's director of instruction, said the state could go in several directions.

The state could follow a similar pattern as they do now — choose one assessment for all grades and require districts to apply for waivers to get around it. Another option would be to choose this approach for younger grades and allow districts to select their own assessments for older grades. The state could also allow districts to choose their own assessments for any grade.

The three assessments the state likely will choose from are Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium, ACT and PARCC.

“I think we'd all be happy if we could choose what assessments we use,” she said of Kansas districts.

“For McPherson kids, the ACT makes sense, for another school Smarter Balance might make more sense.”

The summit and McPherson Friday allowed the professionals in the field to discuss the new definition and also become more informed on their options for next school year.

“The biggest thing I think we accomplished was learning more about the definition,” McDonald said.

“When it first came out, it was kind of glossed over, and I don't think there was anything that happened where people could understand it on a deeper level.”

In other words, the definition states that assessments should evaluate more than math and reading, and should include testing for soft skills and work skills.

“Everything we do should function under that definition,” she said. “We've got to branch out our assessment system to meet that definition. If we really think those things are important, we really need to change what we do.”

Contact Jenae Pauls at and follow her on Twitter @PaulsSentinel.