How ATS' Kite Suite Facilitates Educational Assessment In Kansas and Beyond

Kite Suite logo and supporting graphic, including computer devices showing elements of the tool on their screens, and text reading "A cloud based solution to all your assessment needs."

The Kite Suite is an online software as a service assessment product suite developed by the University of Kansas’ Assessment & Technology Solutions (ATS) under the Achievement & Assessment Institute. Used by the Kansas Department of Education and other educational agencies in school districts and programs across the country, the Kite Suite provides accessible and adaptable large-scale assessments.

ATS is comprised of experienced content developers and IT professionals who design, develop, and support online educational assessment tools and software applications. Kite Suite is ATS’s flagship program, with most ATS staff working on some part of the suite. The Kite Suite is an inclusive all-in-one tool that includes assessment development, content integration, sophisticated data collection tools, and more designed to support the management of K-12, vocational, higher education, and professional level assessments. Being part of KU, ATS has the benefit of working together with experts from the School of Education and other departments across campus.

“These are the leaders and innovators in education, and we have direct access to them to help us grow our product,” said ATS Associate Director Lisa Braun. “And we help them in return by providing the service of software, innovation, and anything they need technology wise to do whatever it is they're dreaming up.”

By partnering with educators, researchers, psychometricians, policy makers, and more, Kite Suite is able to deliver high-quality, large-scale assessments that go above guidelines and standards.

“ATS and the Kansas Department of Education have had a relationship for many years. The Kite Suite guarantees that the assessments we have are aligned to the standards that Kansas educators developed and were approved by the state board of education, which is a high priority for us,” said Beth Fultz, director of career standards and assessments services at the Kansas Department of Education.

Assessments aren’t only multiple choice and can include short answer, interactive models, diagrams, simulations, and multimedia components such as audio and video. Educators can even construct adaptive tests that change per the student's answers.

“There’s a lot of tools available in the Kite Suite assessments, so there are a lot of opportunities to do more than just straight multiple-choice questions,” Fultz said. “We really believe that the more engaged students are, the harder they’ll try.”

The suite consists of five applications: Content Portal, where assessments are created, shared, reviewed, and edited; Educator Portal, where teachers and assessment coordinators can monitor scores, update content, and capture progress data; Student Portal, where students take the assessments and take practice tests, Parent Portal, where parents can check their child’s reports with year to year results; and Survey Solutions, a survey tool for use in classrooms that can help inform school and district policy. But these features don’t only benefit the state or the school districts, they also directly benefit the students and teachers using the program.

“I have been in this industry an awfully long time, and I've learned that you need to really listen to what a client says, no matter at what level the person is,” said ATS Director Susan Martin. “Often, it's assessment coordinators and teachers who actually use our tool more than somebody in upper management. I've encouraged our team to not dismiss anything. We listen to everything.”

ATS uses Kite Suite’s Survey Solutions to receive feedback from users. Receiving direct feedback helps ATS better meet customers’ needs.

Having a diverse group of professionals working on the Kite Suite full time allows team members to address issues and provide fast and effective technology support to meet client needs, making the development and improvement of the program a sort of collaboration between ATS and users.

“We're very much a partner with our clients,” Braun said. “With larger companies I think you tend to get a very ‘out-of-the-box solution.’ And while our solution certainly can be out-of-the-box, we're also very interested in working with our partners to make a software suite that works the best for their students, for their state, for their clientele, whoever that might be.”

ATS staff pride themselves on the fact that the program is easy to use, reports minimal bugs, and that 99.9% of service calls are answered in under a minute, features that are important when delivering large-scale assessments across the country.

“They’re very efficient. If there’s ever an issue, and I say if because it’s very unlikely, they resolve it very quickly, have great communication, and meet the needs of any of our schools,” Fultz said.

Flexibility is another key feature of the Kite Suite. Unlike other programs, the Kite Suite is adaptable to many unique assessment types, subjects, and students. This is apparent through ATS’s partnership with AAI’s Accessible Teaching, Learning, and Assessment Systems (ATLAS) on Dynamic Learning Maps® (DLM) assessments.

DLM alternate assessments are designed for students across the country with significant cognitive disabilities for whom general state assessments are not appropriate, even with accommodations. Students taking DLM assessments have access to accessibility tools that meet their needs. Some of these tools and supports are built into Kite Suite, while others are provided by the teacher. Educators and individualized education program teams decide which tools and supports a student needs.

“Since DLM assessments are designed for students with cognitive disabilities, it is imperative that we minimize accessibility barriers,” said Mari Langas, the technology team leader at ATLAS. “The assessments are flexible, and teachers can personalize the accessibility features for each student, making it an ideal system for us to use. We work with ATS to ensure that ATLAS assessments are delivered to offer multiple ways for students to demonstrate their knowledge, skills, and understandings.”

The Kite Suite stands apart from other assessment software with their innovative approaches to educational content, flexibility, and customer service. It supports upwards of five million assessments a year while maintaining a personal and adaptable service and product. 

“I think our folks are so passionate because they recognize that we're doing something that matters. You can have a lot of IT jobs that are important, but you're not always directly positively influencing people or a community,” Martin said. “That's not quite the same feeling here at ATS. We are proud of the fact that what we do matters, and it has an impact on students.”


Individuals or organizations interested in the Kite Suite should explore the tool's new product page.