Kathy Toelkes, Director of Communications, 785-296-4876
Highlights of the August State Board of Education Meeting
TOPEKA – Aug. 11, 2010 – The Kansas State Board of Education meeting Aug. 10-11 in Topeka began with a report from Interim Commissioner Dr. Diane M. DeBacker on the first meeting of the Kansas Commission on Graduation and Dropout Prevention and Recovery, which was held July 26. The commission was appointed by Governor Mark Parkinson in June to examine and make recommendations on issues related to graduation and dropping out. Membership includes representatives from businesses, schools, community organizations, parents, state agencies and youth. DeBacker serves as co-chair of the commission along with Rod Bremby, secretary of the Kansas Department of Health and Environment. State Board member Jana Shaver represents the State Board on the commission. The purpose of the commission is to examine eight specific areas related to graduation and dropping out and provide recommendations in each area. The commission will meet each month through January 2011 and plans to bring its recommendations to the Governor in December 2010. More information about the work of the commission can be found on its website at www.kansasdropins.org/kansas_commission.htm.
Board members also received an update on the Teaching in Kansas Commission and the Kansas Educational Leadership Commission. The State Board appointed the commissions in 2007 and a number of the deliverables have been completed or are ongoing. Among the items highlighted for Board members was the pilot of a teacher induction program based on the New Teacher Center model. Janet Gless, associate director for the New Teacher Center, and Julie Almquist, regional director for the center, explained that the program, which is in its first year in Kansas, is designed to accelerate new teacher development to improve student learning. It uses experienced teachers who have been fully released from classroom duties in order to serve as full-time mentors to new teachers. Results from other states that have been using the model for three or more years show that the program is effective both in retaining new teachers in the profession and in improving the performance of students who are taught by beginning teachers. A similar program is in place to assist new school leaders, as well.
Katherine Bassett of Educational Testing Services presented on initiatives developed from the work of the Teaching in Kansas Commission. Among the research initiatives being pursued are a multi-state consortium exploring factors to strengthen teacher induction and define professional development through a continuum of practice, examining the next generation of teacher assessments, and a teacher leadership initiative.
State Board members received the list of Title I districts and schools on improvement for the 2010-2011 school year. Twenty-four districts and 37 Title I schools are identified as on improvement. More information is available in the KSDE news release on this topic.
Following information on the Title I districts and schools on improvement, Board members received an update on the Kansas Learning Network (KLN) from Julie Ford, director of Title Programs and Services at KSDE, and Christopher Cross of Cross & Joftus, LLC. In 2008, KSDE began a partnership with Cross & Joftus to form the KLN to provide the technical assistance that is a federal requirement for districts and schools on improvement. An evaluation of the KLN found that the network makes good use of both assessment and support approaches to assist schools and districts and has been effective in increasing collaboration between districts and schools. To improve on effectiveness, the evaluation calls for a system for sustainability to be developed and increased emphasis on communication efforts.
Next, Dr. Tom Foster, KSDE Director of Career, Standards & Assessment Services, provided a summary of upcoming assessment activities. The activities reviewed included programs to focus on computer-generated assessments and assessments that go beyond measuring performance at a given point in time to provide performance measurement all along the educational path. Foster also discussed integrated formative assessments that would focus on the performance of a given task that could measure both academic proficiency and progress on career and technical education skills, as well as a growth model that would shift the focus from performance of a school building to the performance of specific students throughout their educational progression. In addition, a number of strategies to assist educators in performing and evaluating assessments, using performance reports and meeting the needs of students were discussed. As part of the consent agenda, Board members approved entering into a number of contracts to achieve these strategies.
Following Foster’s presentation, the Board entered an executive session to discuss non-elected personnel and for consultation with the Board’s attorney and bargaining representative. After 30 minutes, the executive session ended and the Board voted to ratify the negotiated agreement for certified personnel with the Kansas School for the Deaf. The Board then re-entered executive session to discuss non-elected personnel. No action was taken following the executive session.
Deputy Commissioner for Fiscal and Administrative Services Dale Dennis then shared a report on the 2010 interim legislative study committees, including the Special Committee on Education. The committee is charged with reviewing school finance and policy issues. In addition, the Board began a discussion of its legislative agenda for 2011. The Board has until December to finalize its legislative agenda.
During the second day of the meeting, Board members reviewed the first edition of the Eat Smart, Play Hard video news series. The video series is designed to promote both healthy nutritional habits and physical activity. Each segment highlights programs in one of the 18 school districts participating in the Eat Smart, Play Hard program. The videos and other information from the Eat Smart, Play Hard initiative will be available on a statewide website that should be operational within the next month.
Board members also received recommendations on amendments to the Teacher Licensure regulations. The recommendations were made by the Professional Standards Board and the Regulations Committee and constitute edits to the existing regulations related to the restricted, transitional and interim alternative teaching licenses. In addition, the recommendations encompass an enhancement to the direct entry school counselor regulation and a name change for the history and government license, as well as a requirement for a fingerprint background check for renewal of a license. Board members have one month to consider the recommendations before they will be asked to take action to forward the changes to the Department of Administration and the Attorney General for review. Following review by the Department of Administration and the Attorney General, the State Board will set a public hearing for comments on the proposed changes.
The next meeting of the State Board will be Sept. 14-15, 2010 in Topeka.