Highlights of the February State Board of Education meeting
The Kansas State Board of Education last week approved new regulations for the use of emergency safety interventions in schools, but also directed staff at the Kansas State Department of Education (KSDE) to begin work on an amendment to the regulations that will clarify the process parents can use to appeal school decisions on the use of such interventions. The action came during the Board’s monthly meeting Feb. 12-13 in Topeka.
Emergency safety interventions, commonly referred to as seclusion and restraint, refer to interventions that should only be used in emergency and safety situations. Previously, the State Board has issued guidelines on when emergency safety interventions might be used and the proper use of such measures. The move to regulations requires schools to follow the procedures as outlined by the Board which include the use of school wide positive behavior supports.
During a public hearing on the regulations during the first day of the Board’s meeting, a number of groups and individuals, chiefly the Kansas Disability Rights Center, urged the Board to make changes to the proposed regulations, including a change that would expressly state that local school board decisions related to alleged violations of the regulations could be appealed to the State Department of Education. During Board discussion of the regulations, a number of members expressed the view that complaints should first be handled by the local board of education, but if the parent were unhappy with that outcome, they should be able to appeal to the State Board before taking the matter to the courts. Other member believed more discussion was needed before a decision was made that would put the State Board in the position of potentially overruling the decisions of a local school board. It was agreed to pass the regulations as written, but to continue to discuss an amendment to the regulations with regard to the appeals process.
In other business, the State Board unanimously agreed to change the Quality Performance Accreditation (QPA) process so that the performance measures used in accrediting schools are no longer related to Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP), but are instead based on the four Annual Measurable Objectives (AMOs) that are part of the state’s new accountability plan under its No Child Left Behind (NCLB) flexibility waiver. The Board’s action also allows all schools to be granted accredited status for the 2013-2014 school year. The Board first heard the recommendations from the QPA Advisory Council in January. With the implementation of the state’s NCLB waiver, the accountability system for schools changes in the current school year from the AYP system originally outlined in the NCLB legislation, to the AMO system described in the state’s waiver application. With the Board’s vote, the school accreditation process now recognizes that shift.
Allowing all schools to have accredited status for the next school year provides for a smooth transition to the new performance measurement and will give schools time to work toward the new measurement before it is used in determining their accreditation status.
Also in February, Board members received an update on the Secondary/Postsecondary Career Technical Education (CTE) initiative passed by the Legislature last year. Among the provisions of the legislation is free tuition for high school students taking college level CTE courses at a Kansas community or technical college. Another provision provides a $1,000 incentive to Kansas high schools for each student who graduates from the school having attained an industry-recognized credential that leads to a high-demand occupation in Kansas.
Board members learned that from July to September 2012 – the first part of the 2012-2013 school year - approximately 3,500 high school students had enrolled in college CTE courses. That compares to 3,800 high school students who completed college CTE courses during the 2011-2012 school year, prior to the legislation. This growth is important because studies have shown that high school students who pursue dual enrollment – courses that provide them both high school and college credit – are more likely to attain a postsecondary degree. Projections from the Kansas Department of Labor are that by 2018, 64 percent of the jobs in Kansas will require a postsecondary degree, while just 41 percent of Kansans currently have a postsecondary degree, associate’s degree or higher.
In other business, Board members heard a report on the recommendations of the Governor’s School Efficiency Task Force from fellow Board member and Task Force Chairman Ken Willard. The task force was charged to look for efficiencies that might be possible within the education system. Having met three times to hear testimony from different groups and conducting their own individual investigations, the task force members developed 12 recommendations. Willard said the recommendations are purposely general, indicating that many of the areas of recommendation will require more study before anything is implemented.
The task force report includes a number of recommendations related to budgetary items, both at the state and district level, as well as a recommendation to revise the Professional Negotiations Act to prevent it from hindering operational flexibility and resource assignment, and to authorize a study of school district administration personnel structures and positions with an eye toward developing a state plan for district level administrative reorganization and alignment. Additionally, the report recommends forming a task force composed of education, finance and legislative members to establish a commonly accepted definition of “instruction” spending and to review the current public policy goal to have 65 percent of school spending be toward classroom instruction.
Also in February, Board members received an update on the public comment to the draft standards History, Government and the Social Studies. Board members received the draft standards in January and they will be available for public comment until March 1. Don Gifford, education program consultant for social studies at KSDE, told Board members that since the draft standards were posted to the KSDE website last month, just more than 20 comments had been posted to the draft. He said he expected the standards to come to the Board for a vote in March and, assuming they are adopted, implementation would occur in the 2013-2014 school year with the first assessment aligned to the standards schedule for 2016.
In other business, the State Board:
• Reviewed education bills introduced in the Legislature
• Reviewed out of state licensure processes
• Received information on the Bullying Prevention Advisory Council and agreed to appoint a Board member to the council
• Received an update on the Next Generation Science Standards
• Recognized the Kansas Teacher of the Year Team.
The next meeting on the State Board of Education will March 12 and 13 in Topeka.