Kathy Toelkes, Director of Communications, 785-296-4876
Highlights of the February State Board of Education Meeting
TOPEKA –- The State Board of Education finalized two actions related to anti-bullying efforts when they met in February. Board members approved a formal statement on bullying and a draft resolution establishing an Anti-Bullying Awareness Week in Kansas. The resolution has been forwarded to the State Legislature for action.
The Board statement on bullying expresses the serious nature of bullying and confirms the Board’s support for the current state statute related to bullying. The full statement can be found on the Kansas State Department of Education (KSDE) website.
The resolution approved by the Board acknowledges bullying as a community-wide issue and asks that the first week in October be designated Anti-Bullying Awareness Week in an effort to heighten awareness about the serious issues and negative effects of bullying. The resolution will not be in effect until enacted by the Kansas Legislature. A full draft of the resolution can be found on the KSDE website.
Also in February, the Board agreed to submit a request to the U.S. Department of Education for flexibility in the state’s No Child Left Behind accountability plan. The Board is asking that the state’s targets for performance on Kansas State Assessments be held steady at 2009-10 levels until the state is able to fully implement the new Common Core Standards and the new assessments aligned to those standards. In accordance with No Child Left Behind requirements, state performance targets for students reaching proficient performance on reading and math assessments rise each year until reaching 100 percent proficient by 2014.
Following the Board meeting, a letter signed by State Board Chairman David Dennis was delivered to U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan with that request. The letter, which can be found on the KSDE website, cites the state’s commitment to continued reform, as evidenced by the adoption of the Common Core Standards and the state’s participation as a governing state in the SMARTER Balanced Assessment Consortium, a group of 30 states working to develop the next generation of assessments aligned to the Common Core Standards. The request is not to absolve the state of accountability, but to keep the performance levels steady at the 2009-10 levels through the 2014-15 school year. Those performance targets are 82.3 percent in mathematics for grades K-8 and 76.4 percent for grades 9-12. In reading, the targets are 83.7 percent for grades K-8 and 81.3 percent for grades 9-12.
Board members also received an update on efforts to implement the four-year adjusted cohort graduation rate as required by the U.S. Department of Education (USDOE). The USDOE has mandated that all states calculate their graduation rates in the same manner starting in the 2010-11 school year. The intent is to have uniform, comparable data related to graduation rates across states. The new graduation rate calculation looks at the number of first-time ninth graders for a given year (the cohort group) and tracks them over a four-year period. The graduation rate is computed by dividing the number of cohort members graduating in four years by the sum of the original first-time ninth graders plus transfers in and minus students who transferred out, emigrated for died within the four-year period. More information about the new graduation rate calculation is available on the KSDE website.
Also in February, Board members received a presentation on the Center for Advanced Professional Studies (CAPS) in the Blue Valley USD 229 School District. CAPS is a collaborative effort between education, business and community that provides juniors and seniors in high school with a profession-based, immersive program of college credit-bearing curriculum designed to provide the skills needed to succeed both in the competitive college environment and in the 21st century global workforce. CAPS offers programs in the areas of bioscience, business, engineering and human services. The programs provide rigorous, college level academics along with immediate application opportunities including immersion into real professions, real projects and internships and use of industry standard technology and equipment.
Students must apply to participate in CAPS. CAPS is a semester-long program and students spend 2.5 hours each day in the program. They can earn high school graduation core credit, elective credit and college credit in the program. During the presentation, there was a discussion on how the program could be successfully replicated in other communities.
Other items on the February agenda included recognition of the Kansas Teacher of the Year Team, as well as the Kansas Superintendent of the Year and the Kansas Association of Elementary School Principals and the Kansas Association of Secondary School Principals Principals of the Year. The Board received a report on seclusion data for 2009-10 and received the Kansas Curricular Standards for English for Speakers of Other Languages.
During the Board member reports, Board Chairman David Dennis shared with members an invitation from the Kansas Policy Institute to participate in a public forum to discuss education issues. While there was consensus that it was important to open a dialog about the issues facing education, some Board members were concerned that the forum would not present a fair and balanced view if it were funded and organized by a single entity. It was determined that the Board Chair and Vice Chair and the Commissioner would work with the Kansas Policy Institute to discuss the purpose of the forum and how it might be organized before a determination was made regarding participation.
The next State Board of Education meeting is scheduled for March 8 and 9. The Board will meet in Topeka on March 8, and will travel to the Kansas State School for the Deaf and the Kansas State School for the Blind on March 9.