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December Kansas State Board of Education highlights: Teacher vacancy, literacy initiative and Schools for Deaf, Blind topics of meeting

Posted: Dec 15, 2017
Author: Ann Bush

Kansas State Board of Education members discussed several issues during their meeting Tuesday, Dec. 12, and Wednesday, Dec. 13, including reading initiatives, and recommendations from the Teacher Vacancy and Supply Committee (TVSC) and Kansas State Schools for the Deaf and Blind.

Susan Helbert, assistant director of KSDE's Teacher Licensure and Accreditation team, and Dr. Laurie Curtis, co-chair of the TVSC, gave an update on recommendations to the board.

Immediate priority license issues identified earlier by State Board of Education members include multi-year first license (mentoring), elementary alternative, student-teaching options, comprehensive science and special education.

Mentoring guidelines were updated and adopted in July 1.

The focus of this year's TVSC meetings were on elementary alternative and special education options, Curtis said.

The committee is currently recommending approval of a pilot for an alternative elementary pathway. TVSC also is recommending a pilot special education alternative pathway; creating a new teaching endorsement for special education generalists; salary stipends for special education teachers; higher pay for special education paraprofessionals; and more.

Continuing considerations include supporting the role of microcredentials in providing special education options and paraprofessional pathways.

KSDE's Dr. Suzanne Myers talked to board members about the Kansas Striving Readers Comprehensive Literacy Initiative. The goal of the initiative is to improve reading skills for children ages birth through grade 12. Kansas received a federal grant for about $27 million, of which 97 percent will be subawarded to eight districts or consortia.

Application materials should be available in February, and implementation would begin in August 2018.

Luanne Barron, interim superintendent of the Kansas State School for the Deaf (KSSD), and Jon Harding, interim superintendent of the Kansas State School for the Blind (KSSB), discussed future structures for the schools. At the request of the State Board of Education, the Kansas Association of School Boards (KASB) conducted a personnel study with a focus specifically on current staffing levels and services offered at KSSD and KSSB.

Harding and Barron explained that they are working to reallocate resources from administrative positions to student services. They recommended keeping a superintendent at each school (with expanded duties) and eliminating five other administrative positions. Recommended reductions would include two shared administrative positions (operations) and three administrative positions from instruction at the KSSD.

The KASB recommended moving resources to outreach, which Harding and Barron said they are working toward. Other recommendations included emphasizing early and continued Specialty Designed Instruction at KSSD; developing an action plan for working with KSDE, the Kansas State Department of Health and Environment, local districts and parents to ensure every deaf or hard-of-hearing student's unique educational needs are met; expanding collaboration with cooperatives, interlocals and higher education; and increasing collaboration among KSSD and KSSB staff members.

Board members also:
• Approved new educator preparation program standards for Secondary Education Unified (SEU) 6-12. The initial SEU 6012 license will prepare teaching candidates to work with sixth- through 12th-grade students to identify those with special needs and to aid in the support and intervention through collaboration with professionals and families, behavior and classroom management, transition, co-teaching and effectively utilizing paraprofessionals.
• Approved CPR standards to the existing Kansas Model Curricular Standards for Health Education. They will take effect immediately.
• Heard a presentation from the 2017 Kansas Milken Educator, Heidi Albin, a teacher at Complete High School Maize.
• Heard presentations from A+ School Pilot Program schools Cheney Elementary School, Cheney Unified School District 268, and Hiawatha High School, Hiawatha USD 415. These schools are in the third year of the pilot. The A+ School Pilot program is a whole-school transformational model focused on infusing creativity in the classroom through implementation of the A+ Essentials: curriculum, experiential learning, multiple learning pathways, enriched assessments, collaboration, infrastructure, climate and the arts.
• Heard a presentation about the Reading for Success program from Istation and Fort Hays State University. This is the third year Istation has serviced Kansas. There were 185 Kansas districts enrolled in the Istation program as of Dec. 5, 2017. There are 143,257 Kansas students using the program. If every eligible Kansas student, 355,000 students, took part in the program, the maximum cost would be $2.1 million or $5.92 per student in grades pre-K through eighth.

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