Quantile Measures for Math Added to Kansas Student Assessments

Kansas will be working with a research and education technology company to add an additional dimension to how students are assessed. The State Department of Education has signed a $197,000 contract with MetaMetrics, which has developed scientific measures for academic achievement in reading and math. Two of its best-known products are Quantile Framework for Mathematics and Lexile Framework for Reading.

For the past five years, some students in the state have received Lexile measures from the Kansas Reading Assessment. Starting next fall, those same students will receive both the Lexile measures and Quantile measures through the Kansas Assessment Program, which tests students against state learning standards. The new measures have been put in place for students in grades 3 through 8 and grade 10.

There are two types of Lexile measures: a person's reading ability and the text's difficulty. Students who are tested against state standards receive a Lexile reader measure from the Kansas Reading Assessment. Books and other texts receive a Lexile text measure from a MetaMetrics software tool called the Lexile Analyzer, which describes the book's reading demand or complexity. When used together, the two measures are intended to help match a reader with reading material that is at an appropriate difficulty or will at least help give an idea of how well a reader should comprehend text. The reader should encounter some level of difficulty with the text, but not enough to get frustrated. The Lexile reader measure is used to monitor reader progress.

Quantile measures perform a similar job but for mathematics. One Quantile measure describes what the student is prepared to learn next; the other describes the difficulty or demand level in learning for that skill or concept. As the company explained in a prepared statement, "Both measures are represented as a number followed by the letter Q on the Quantile scale," for example, 640Q.

The contract is intended to cover the expense of a research study to link the Kansas math assessments to the Quantile scale. This is a common starting point in state use of Lexile or Quantile measures. The company said it has run similar operations in 25 states and two dozen countries.

The work is being undertaken as Kansas begins implementing a new educational philosophy, "Kansans Can," with an emphasis on learning success for each student.

"Kansas' commitment to its new vision for education requires that teachers be able to target instruction to the academic needs of each student," said Commissioner of Education Randy Watson. "We see these measures as being able to help guide educators as they develop these individual learning strategies."

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a former senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal, Campus Technology and Spaces4Learning.