For assessment and accountability, the Kentucky Department of Education (KDE) developed the Kentucky Instructional Results Information System (KIRIS). Because the KIRIS assessment relied on student performance and was “high stakes” for schools, the fairness of the assessment was important. This paper examined whether 8th grade students living in Appalachia and/or in primarily rural school districts perform differently on the assessment than their peers. The four years of data (1993-1996) for this study came from KIRIS Cycle 2 data. The dependent variable was a composite score of student performance on constructed-response reading, mathematics, science, and social studies tests. The study found very small but significant performance differences existed based on Appalachian residence and rural-urban mix of school district over this KIRIS Accountability Cycle. Several suggestions for further decomposing the patterns of difference found in this study are made.

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