Highlights of the September State Board of Education Meeting
TOPEKA – Sept. 15, 2010 – Among the highlights of the State Board of Education’s September 2010 meeting was the appointment of a new Commissioner of Education, a report on the performance of Kansas public schools and public school districts on Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) measures, and receipt of the Common Core Standards for English language arts and mathematics.
Board members met in Topeka Sept. 14-15. At the conclusion of the agenda on Sept. 15, Board member David Dennis asked the Board to consider appointing Dr. Diane DeBacker, who has been serving as the Interim Commissioner of Education since Oct. 2009, to the position of Commissioner of Education on a permanent basis. Following some discussion, the Board voted to approve the appointment, effective immediately. DeBacker was directed to begin efforts to fill the position of Deputy Commissioner for Learning Services, which she had been handling concurrently with her duties as Interim Commissioner.
Also during the two-day Board meeting, members learned that just more than 81 percent of the state’s public schools and about 72 percent of school districts met AYP performance targets for the 2009-10 school year. More information about AYP performance can be found in the KSDE news release on the topic. Following presentation of the AYP results, Board members discussed the feasibility of seeking permission from the U.S. Department of Education to freeze the performance targets at their current level, given that a reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) is in the works and will result in a change in the accountability system for schools. There was also discussion of moving to a student growth model for accountability that would look at longitudinal data on student growth rather than a single assessment score. DeBacker shared with Board members that the Kansas State Department of Education (KSDE) has the ability now to gather the data for a student growth model, however the change to that model has not been made because it is not part of the NCLB accountability plan that has been filed with the U.S. Department of Education. The Board would need to discuss whether it makes sense to change accountability plans now, so close to the end of the current plan, which will be in 2014, and knowing that the reauthorization of ESEA in the next year will bring changes to accountability plans anyway.
Also during the meeting, Board members received the Common Core Standards for English language arts and mathematics and heard from the co-chairs of the Standards Development committees for each subject about the additions they believe are necessary to create high quality standards for Kansas students and educators. The Common Core Standards are an initiative headed by the National Governor’s Association Center for Best Practices and the Council of Chief State School Officers. The draft standards, developed together with teachers, school administrators and experts from 51 states, territories and the District of Columbia, seek to provide a clear and consistent framework to prepare children for college and the workforce. KDSE played a significant role in reviewing early drafts of the standards and has had many opportunities to provide input and participate in the process.
States that choose to adopt the Common Core Standards must adopt them as a whole, however they do have the latitude to add 15 percent to the content of the standards to reflect state preferences and areas of emphasis. State Board members were presented with the documents outlining recommendations for the 15 percent additions to both the English language arts and the mathematics standards. Those documents can be found in the Board materials found on this website.
Board members will be asked in October to vote on adopting the Common Core Standards in Kansas.
State Board members also heard a report from Robin Harris, assistant director for Career, Standards and Assessment Services at KDSE, on the changes in state vocational education funding for high school journalism courses. Given media interest in the issue in the week leading up to the Board meeting, Commissioner DeBacker gave up her time to present the
Commissioner’s report so that Harris could clarify for Board members what was happening with relation to journalism courses in the state. In her presentation, Harris explained that beginning with the 2012-13 school year, journalism courses would need to be realigned with Career Clusters in an approved Career and Technical Education program to be eligible to receive additional state funding.
Deputy Commissioner for Fiscal and Administrative Services Dale Dennis reviewed with Board members some potential impacts to the current state budget, as well as to the next fiscal year’s budget. In addition, Dennis briefly reviewed the Board’s 2011 legislative package and Board members agreed to include changes to the campaign finance contribution limits for State
Board races to its legislative package, as well as a provision to allow the Kansas State School for the Blind (KSSB) and the Kansas State School for the Deaf (KSSD) to provide services to blind and deaf adults, provided the cost of the services was covered by the entity requesting the services.
Also in September, State Board members voted to authorize KSDE staff to proceed with implementation of the Kansas Multi-Tier System of Support (MTSS) comprehensive, multi-year evaluation, provided the recommendations of the ad hoc state purchasing negotiating committee
are followed. In other action, the Board voted to send proposed changes in the Teacher Licensure Regulations to the Attorney General and the Department of Administration for review. In the same action, Board members amended the proposed change to the history government endorsement so that it would be labeled a history government/social studies endorsement rather than a social studies comprehensive endorsement. Once the proposed changes have been reviewed by the Attorney General and the Department of Administration, a public hearing date will be set to receive comments on the proposed changes.
Board member also received year-end reports from the superintendent for KSSB and KSSD and voted to approve the fiscal year 2012 budget requests to be submitted by KSSB and KSSD, as well as the supplemental fiscal year 2011 budget request from KSSD.
The next State Board of Education meeting is scheduled for Oct. 12-13 in Topeka.