Kathy Toelkes, Director of Communications, 785-296-4876
Highlights of the January State Board of Education Meeting
TOPEKA – State Board of Education members took time during their meeting Jan. 10 and 11 in Topeka to further discuss Gov. Sam Brownback’s proposed school funding formula. This is the third month the Board has reviewed and discussed the provisions of the proposal.
Landon Fulmer, policy advisor for Gov. Brownback, was present to provide updates to the plan, and shared with Board members the Governor’s plan for Career and Technical Education (CTE) that had been released earlier in the week. Fulmer said the CTE plan called for eliminating the .5 weighting for technical education courses, but putting the equivalent dollar amount into a separate fund to be managed by the Kansas State Department of Education (KSDE). KSDE will distribute the funding to schools based on enrollment in technical education programs.
The Governor’s CTE plan also calls for providing funding to the Kansas Board of Regents to cover the cost of educating high school students enrolled in a career or technical education course or program in a community college, technical college or university. Funding would be provided to cover school districts’ cost for transporting high school students to the post-secondary institutions for those programs. In addition, high schools that graduate students with an industry-recognized certification in an area identified as a high-need area will receive a $1,000 award for each student achieving the certification.
Board members expressed appreciation for the Governor’s focus on CTE, which mirrors the Board’s own strategic initiatives. The Board unanimously passed a motion expressing appreciation for the Governor’s commitment to additional funding for CTE. Board members were unable to pass a similar motion to approve the Governor’s efforts to craft a new school finance formula. Board member Ken Willard made the motion and said it was not intended to indicate support for the proposed funding formula itself, but simply to recognize the Governor’s efforts to be collaborative and inclusive as he set about crafting a new school finance formula. However, some Board members indicated that even though they appreciated that the Governor involved the State Board and the education community in the process of developing the proposed formula, they were either not certain a new formula was called for and therefore could not vote for a motion that appeared to offer support for developing a new formula, or they feared the perception would be that the Board was endorsing the proposed funding formula.
Board members also received an update on KSDE’s work to complete an application for flexibility on No Child Left Behind (NCLB) requirements. The application must address four principles in its waiver application:
1. College- and career-ready expectations for all students
2. State developed differentiated recognition, accountability and support
3. Supporting effective instruction and leadership
4. Reducing duplication and unnecessary burden.
Judi Miller, assistant director for Title Programs and Services at KSDE, told Board members that work to achieve principle 1 was on track with the state’s previous adoption of the Common Core Standards and the state’s participation as part of the SMARTER Balanced Assessment Consortia to develop assessments aligned to the Common Core Standards. In addition, the state is in the process of developing English language proficiency standards aligned to the Common Core Standards, as well as assessments aligned to those standards.
A lot of work had been done with regard to principle 2, Miller said, particularly as it relates to accountability. Miller said the committee working to develop the waiver application had developed an accountability plan based on multiple measures consisting of achievement, growth and achievement gap reduction. Under the plan proposed in the waiver application, if a school met accountability targets on any of the three measures it will have made adequate yearly progress (AYP). Should the state’s waiver be granted, this new measure of accountability would take effect in the 2012-2013 school year. In the 2011-2012 school year, accountability would be based on the percent of students meeting standards on state reading and math assessments, based on the state’s 2011 AYP targets.
With regard to principle 3, the U.S. Department of Education is not requiring that the teacher/principal evaluation system be in place at the time the waiver is requested or granted, but that the state have a plan for achieving implementation of such a system by the 2014-2015 school year. Miller said the committee working on this principle will have its initial meeting in February and will have guidelines for the evaluation model by June 2012.
A draft of the state’s waiver application is available for public comment on the KSDE website.
Also in January, Board members reviewed the initial draft of the History/Government/Social Studies Standards Framework. Don Gifford, education program consultant for KSDE, shared with Board members that the initial draft does not include the grade and course level standard, which are still being worked on by the writing committee. The draft does establish a framework for the standards and establishes five core standards and the indicators under each standard. In response to questions from some Board members, Gifford explained that Black history was not separated out in the document as a separate standard because it is integrated throughout the document. He said that would become more apparent as the grade and course level content was added to the document.
Last year, representatives from the Topeka Chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People urged State Board members to develop Black history standards and include Black history as part of the social studies curriculum. The consensus of the Board was that changes to the existing standards as it relates to Black history would be made as part of the planned standards review.
The timeline for developing the standards calls for them to be complete and presented to the State Board for adoption by December 2012. The initial framework draft is available on the KSDE website.
In other business, Board members received a report on the High School Feedback reports, designed by KSDE to allow Kansas school districts and buildings to easily gain information that can help them determine how well prepared students graduating from their schools are for postsecondary opportunities. Authorized school and district personnel are able to view reports showing average ACT scores by building as well as disaggregated information for student subgroups and subject areas. Other information includes the percent of graduates by year that enrolled in postsecondary institutions and a list of which postsecondary institutions the school’s graduates are attending, as well as postsecondary retention metrics and postsecondary remedial coursework. Each report provides at least three years of data.
Board members also reviewed draft Social-Emotional Character Development Standards. Kent Reed, education program consultant with KSDE, told Board members Kansas is the first state to address the standards in this way. Many states have addressed social and emotional learning and others have addressed Character Development, but Kansas is the first to align the two, he said. Funding for the development of the standards came through the Character Education Grant from the U.S. Department of Education. Reed said work is still progressing on developing grade level indicators for the standards, but he anticipates having those to share when the standards are next brought before the Board.
In other business in January, Board members received a report from the Special Education Advisory Council and a presentation from the Career Technical Student Organizations. In addition, Board members heard from Kansas Superintendent of the Year Mike Mathes, Seaman USD 345, and Kansas High School Principal of the Year Larry Thompson, Hesston High School USD 460, and received a report from Madeline Burkindine, superintendent of the Kansas State School for the Deaf and the Kansas State School for the Blind, on the literacy needs of students who are deaf, hard of hearing and/or blind, visually impaired.
The next State Board of Education meeting is scheduled for Feb. 14 and 15 in Topeka.