State assessment testing in Hays USD 489 schools started Monday.

They join Kansas students in third through eighth grades and one high school grade taking the new state assessments in math and English language arts this spring.

Since it will look a little different than in the past, the Kansas State Department of Education prepared a letter to parents explaining the tests.

It was up to building administrators whether to send the letter to parents, said USD 489 Curriculum Director Shanna Dinkel.

It's also on the district's website.

"The test itself is transitional. The format will look very different," she said. "This year's test will be different from last year's, and next year's will be different again."

USD 489 students took a practice test before taking the assessments this week.

The practice run gave them a chance to "log in to get familiar with the test and tools," Dinkel said.

Students did seem to be more engaged during the practice test, she said.

There were some technology problems Monday.

"The technology problems we have had, the state has had as well," Dinkel said.

"Patience and flexibility are key to this year."

Test results aren't likely to be in until August, Superintendent Dean Katt told the board of education Monday night.

"They (state officials) have to set the new benchmarks. They'll do that this summer, so we won't have a lot of good information until we have the benchmark information."

Reports to parents and teachers will be more detailed -- identifying what the student is doing well and where additional focus is needed.

"We do expect our test scores to go down next year because of the new tests," Katt said. "That will be across the board statewide."

This year's test was developed by the Center for Educational Testing and Evaluation at the University of Kansas and is aligned to the Kansas College and Career Ready Standards.