Highlights of the June State Board of Education Meeting
TOPEKA –Kansas State Board of Education members learned in June that the state’s ESEA waiver request is moving closer to approval. The concerns previously expressed by the U.S. Department of Education (USDOE) related to how the state will set and determine performance toward Annual Measurable Objectives (AMOs) and how and when the state would tie student achievement to teacher and principal evaluations appear to be resolved, according to an update from the Kansas State Department of Education (KSDE) staff.
Judi Miller, assistant director for Title Programs and Services at KSDE, provided the update on the state’s efforts to gain flexibility related to some of the provisions of the federal No Child Left Behind (NCLB) legislation during the Board’s monthly meeting June 12 and 13 in Topeka. Miller said the key elements of the state’s plan remain in place, including the use of multiple measures to determine whether schools and districts have met AMOs.
Originally, the state’s waiver application included an accountability plan that would use three measures for determining whether schools or districts had met AMOs – growth in student achievement, reduction in the performance gap and student achievement based on an assessment performance index (API). The API assigns a defined number of points for each performance level on the state assessments. Schools and districts are awarded that number of points for each student scoring in the performance level. The total points are then divided by the total number of students to determine the API. The USDOE expressed concerns that by awarding more points to students who score in the top two performance levels, it may mask performance in the lowest two performance levels. To address that concern, a fourth measure has been added to the state’s plan. The fourth measure would be a 50 percent reduction in the percent of students below the “meets standards” performance level within six years.
In addition, Miller said she believes the state’s plan for including student achievement in teacher and principal evaluations will also be approved. That plan calls for development of the evaluation and support system in 2012-13, with a pilot in 2013-14 and full implementation in 2014-15. A decision on the state’s waiver request is expected prior to the next State Board meeting in July.
In other business, Board members approved a change in the teacher licensure regulations that removes a June 30, 2012 sunset date on a provision that allows individuals with a valid teaching license to add certain endorsements to their licenses by passing the appropriate content assessment. Traditionally, teachers must show evidence of completing a course of study and passing the content assessment in order to add an endorsement. The provision in the regulations was added approximately five years ago. The Board action in June allows the provision to remain in effect indefinitely.
Board members received an update on the progress of the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). Kansas is one of 26 lead states in the effort to draft a common set of standards for K-12 science education. Matt Krehbiel, education program consultant for science at KSDE, shared that approximately 8,400 people nationwide commented on the first public draft of the standards that was available May 11 through June 1. Krehbiel reminded Board members that a second public draft would be available, probably before the end of the year, and he anticipated having a final version for Board members to consider by the spring of 2013.
In addition to progress in developing the science standards, Krehbiel shared with the Board information about the implementation of a Kansas Science Leadership Team. The effort is an outgrowth of a group that was formed to help inform the development of the NGSS. The purpose of the Science Leadership Team would be to fashion a roadmap for the long-term vision for science education in the state. The team would include representatives from K-12 and post-secondary education, business and industry, commerce and workforce development, non-formal science educators and other critical stakeholders. Planning is still underway for the implementation of the Leadership Team.
Also in June, the State Board heard from Dr. Malbert Smith, president and co-founder of MetaMetrics, about summer reading loss. Smith reviewed research which showed that while all students achieved at a similar rate during the school months, over the summer months low-income students, who are less likely to have books or magazines in the home, experienced a loss in literacy skills at a greater rate than other students. Over the course of the 13 years of a K-12 education, the deficit becomes significant. According to Smith, providing students with reading material they’re interested in and that is at an appropriate reading level over the summer months can mitigate summer loss. Some research has determined the effect is equal to having attended summer school.
MetaMetrix provides an online resource that helps students find books in their interest areas that also have the appropriate text complexity for their reading level. Smith said the state’s summer reading program, Read Kansas Read, is an excellent example of programs that can help address summer loss for a broad range of students.
In other business, State Board members reviewed a plan for how KSDE would provide technical assistance to Title I schools. Currently, the state must provide technical assistance to Title I schools that are identified as on improvement under the NCLB legislation. If the state’s NCLB waiver request is granted, the agency will still need to provide technical assistance to Title I schools identified as priority or focus schools.
Technical assistance for such schools is currently provided by the Kansas Learning Network (KLN) through a contract with an outside entity - Cross & Joftus. For the next school year, KSDE is recommending that a large portion of the work being done by Cross & Joftus shift to educational service centers and KSDE. Cross & Joftus would remain as a consultant to the program, but would have a more limited role in the technical assistance process.
The team from Baldwin High School that was named the national champions in the Real World Design Challenge (RWDC) for aviation in April was recognized by the State Board in June. This is the second time in three years the team from Baldwin High School has won the RWDC national championship. The students were able to share with Board members their solution to the design challenge presented in the competition, as well as their thoughts on how the process has helped them grow personally and academically. The students and their coach were presented with certificates of recognition from the State Board.
Also in June, the State Board made appointments to the Special Education Advisory Council, the Licensure Review Board and the Professional Practices Commission. Nominees Deborah Howser from the Silver Lake School District and Diane Plunkett from Fort Hays State University were appointed to the Special Education Advisory Council. Mike Martin, a parent in Frontenac and Shawn Mackay from the Shawnee Mission School District were reappointed to the council.
Jan Wilson from the division of education at Friends University, was appointed to the Licensure Review Committee, and Sherry Turnbull, library media specialist at Lakeside Elementary School in the Pittsburg School District, was appointed to the Professional Practices Commission.
The next State Board of Education meeting is scheduled for July 10 and 11 in Topeka.