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February State Board of Education highlights: Board approves specialized certificates for Kansas City USD 500

Posted: Feb 17, 2017
Author: Ann Bush

During the Feb. 14-15 Kansas State Board of Education meeting, Kansas Commissioner of Education Randy Watson discussed the National Student Clearinghouse data, which will be available to all Kansas districts by late spring.

The data includes postsecondary enrollment and progress for every student in the state of Kansas from 2010 to 2016, Watson told board members.

Wendy Fritz, human resources director, shared information about the process for hiring a superintendent for the Kansas State Schools for the Deaf and Blind. The current superintendent, Madeleine Burkindine, will retire at the end of the 2016-2017 school year.

Bill Mullins, chairman of the Coalition of Innovative School District, and Shelly Beech, Kansas City Unified School District 500 director of professional workforce development, gave the board recommendations from the Coalition for issuing specialized certificates. The Coalition at one of its earlier meetings approved five applications for specialized certificates. The applicants were then presented to the State Board for consideration. The applicants are all for Kansas City Public Schools USD 500.

Beech spoke to board members about the five applicants. The specialized certificate is effective for a one-year period and is nontransferable to any other Kansas school district, she explained.

The current seven approved Innovative School Districts are McPherson USD 418; Concordia USD 333; Kansas City USD 500; Blue Valley USD 229; Hugoton USD 201; Marysville USD 364; and Fredonia USD 484.

The State Board on July 14, 2015, approved on a 6-4 vote the Coalition of Innovative School Districts’ specialized teaching certificate application and process. This allows approved Innovative Districts to hire nonlicensed professional employees or licensed professional employees in areas outside of their areas of licensure for one year and to allow the State Board to give their final approval.

The Board first voted to suspend the rules so it could act on the recommendation because the item was “receive only.” The Board then voted to approve the recommendation from the Coalition.

Dr. Sally Roberts, from the University of Kansas and chair of the 12-member committee developing Elementary Education Unified K-6 standards, spoke to board members about educator preparation program standards, which establish program approval requirements to ensure that preparation programs in Kansas provide educator candidates with the opportunity to learn the knowledge and skills educators need for today’s learning context. The Institutions of Higher Education (IHEs) utilize program standards to develop their preparation programs and submit them for approval and for continuous monitoring and improvement of their programs. The standards also help to establish professional learning requirements for licensure renewal.

A standards drafting workgroup has completed the task of writing program standards for the new endorsement area to ensure they reflect new knowledge and skills educators need. In January, a set of new Elementary Education Unified K-6 (Direct Entry Special Education Unified K-6) standards were presented to the board for review.

The board approved the standards.

Deputy Commissioner Dale Dennis spoke to the board about a requirement to determine and certify hard-to-fill positions for the 2016-2017 school year: elementary and classroom teacher; mathematics (5-12); life and physical sciences (5-12); English language arts (5-12); and performing arts (Prek-12). 

Kansas statutes require the State Board to annually certify the top five types of licensed positions that are hard to fill. The law provides the following:
•    A school district may hire a retirant for hard-to-fill position for some or all of the school year and in subsequent school years if the employer is unable to permanently fill the position.
•    If a retirant is hired under the provisions of this statute, they may be retained by the employer for up to 36 months or three years.
•    The school district must pay a KPERS surcharge while at the same time the employee may continue to receive their KPERS retirement benefits.
•    KSA 74-4927, Section 5 (b), exempts special education from the five hard-to-fill positions.
•    The provisions of this law expire July 1, 2021.

In summary, a school district may employ retirees for the top five hard-to-fill positions, plus special education for up to three years if they are willing to pay the KPERS surcharge.

All school districts responded to the Fall Vacancy Report for 2016-2017, which contained questions about positions that were difficult to fill. There were 413 vacancies reported as of Sept. 1, 2016.

The State Board approved the requirement.

Suzie Myers, English Language Arts (ELA) consultant with KSDE, gave an update on the English Language Arts Standards.

Proposed changes include:
•    Addition of ELA practices to provide big-picture goals.
•    Addition of student success statements.
•    Addition of progression for each standard in expanded form.
•    Addition of “Intent of Standard” statements to address Anchor Standard.
•    “Absorption” of Kansas 15 percent into ELA practices and grade-level standards.
•    Multiple ways to view, depending on desired level of detail.
•    Interactive with links to further detail about each standard.
•    Attention to qualitative, as well as quantitative, measures in reading standard 10.
•    Updated “front matter” to explain and situate the standards for educators and education stakeholders.
•    Removal of any language that dictates course sequencing.
•    Creating of progression document for language standards.
•    Greater clarity around how to integrate ELA strands (writing, reading, speaking/listening/language) for deeper learning.

The final recommended standards should be brought before the board in late summer or early fall of 2017.

Dr. Kelly Gillespie, chief executive officer of Southwest Plains Regional Service Center in Salina, presented to the board. Gillespie received the E. Roberts Stephens Award from the Association of Educational Service Agencies for her design of the Digital eWalkThrough System, a web-based observation tool used for coaching and mentoring. The national award was presented to her in December at the association’s annual conference. Gillespie wrote a book, “eWalkThrough: Digital System for Instructional Leaders.”

After Gillespie spoke,  KSDE’s Dale Dennis introduced the 2017 Kansas Teacher of the Year team, which includes:
•    Kansas Teacher of the Year, Jason Sickel, a high school vocal music teacher at Blue Valley north High School in Overland Park.
•    Kristine “Kristi” A. Bruce, a fourth-grade teacher at Auburn Elementary School, Auburn-Washburn USD 437.
•    Jennifer M. Farr, a fifth-grade teacher at Lincoln Elementary School in Junction City, Geary County USD 475.
•    Jonathan Ferrell, a sixth-grade science teacher at Briarwood Elementary School in Overland Park, Shawnee Mission USD 512.
•    Crystal May, a fourth-grade mathematics, science and social studies teacher at Pray-Woodman Elementary School in Maize, Maize USD 266.
•    Maret Schrader, a high school language arts teacher at Seaman High School in Topeka, Seaman USD 345.
•    Lori J. Stratton, a high school English and reading teacher at Wamego high School, Wamego USD 320.
•    Dr. Brent M. Wolf, a sixth-grade English language arts teacher at Derby North Middle School, Derby USD 260.

Each teacher shared stories from their classroom and talked about why it is great to be a teacher.

Next, Dennis introduced representatives of Security Benefit, which is a chief corporate partner for the Kansas Teacher of the Year program.

Also Tuesday afternoon, Dr. Catherine Chmidling, an education program consultant for KSDE, and others serving on the higher education preparation program standards group, including Dorothy Hanna, Eryn Norton Moland and Leah Ward, shared revised standards for review on chemistry 6-12; physics 6-12; and foreign language PreK-12.

The structure of the chemistry standards has been changed to include professional skills indicators rather than the previous performance indicators. Also, the previous standards only had indicators in each standard while the new standards are broken down by functions and then have the types of indicators within each function. 

The structure of physics standards has changed to include professional skills indicators rather than the previous performance indicators. The new physics standards are focused on specific content knowledge, problem solving skills and teaching techniques and technology.

The foreign language standards help educators prepare learners to succeed in the future global workforce, using technology to access the global community and interacting with people and businesses of many cultural and linguistic backgrounds. The proposed standards are aligned with the Kansans Can vision and flexibility. Standard 1 focuses on language proficiency to enable the classroom instruction to be conducted primarily in the target language. Standards 2-7 focus on application. Standard 8 focuses on professional collaboration and advocacy. T

he total number of standards was reduced where they overlapped, and a standard specifically addressing assessment was added. 

The received programs standards will be presented for action at the March meeting.

The next board meeting will be March 14-15 at the Landon State Office Building, 900 S.W. Jackson.

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