Challenge Award, Explained

The following information was provided by KSDE.

The Challenge Awards were created to honor schools that performed well on the state assessments and had high percentages of students from disadvantaged backgrounds, including those who live in poverty, and often members of a minority group.

Administrators and teachers have started to see the Challenge Awards as motivation to reach for even higher levels of performance. The awards help showcase the many positive academic achievements taking place in schools with predominately high-risk populations.

How does a school earn a Challenge Award?

The Challenge Awards recognize schools for outstanding achievement and uncommon accomplishment based on Kansas math and reading assessment results and other qualifying factors, specifically the sample size, ethnicity and social-economic status of those taking the test. We also now include graduation rates when calculating high school results and chronic absenteeism rates for middle and elementary schools. The steps used to identify Challenge Award honorees are as follows:

  • A statistical model is used that includes 2018 math and reading state assessments scores, percent of the sample that received free or reduced-priced lunch and the percent that were members of an ethnic minority. Graduation rates and chronic absenteeism are factors, too. The top 200 Kansas schools are then selected.
  • Only schools that have a total percentage of free and reduced-price lunch students above the state average of 46.49 percent are eligible for recognition.


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