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Kansas State Board of Education: October highlights

Posted: Oct 19, 2017
Author: Ann Bush

Two years ago, the Kansas State Board of Education launched a new vision for Kansas education — Kansas leads the world in the success of each student. Board members on Tuesday, Oct. 17, 2017, received an update on the progress the state has made toward that goal.

Kansas Commissioner of Education Dr. Randy Watson presented the update and the 2016-2017 Annual Report during his Commissioner’s Report. The Annual Report is a look back at the past, as well as a look forward to the future, Watson told board members during his presentation.

The work that has taken place during the past two years is moving the focus away from a single measure, such as assessment scores, to measuring items like postsecondary success and effective rates — what happens to Kansas students once they leave high school. Focusing solely on state assessment results isn’t going to move Kansas forward, Watson said. As a state, we need to ensure that we are preparing students with the skills needed to meet Kansas’ workforce education requirements.

Kansas schools are being asked to look at two new measures of student success — postsecondary success rates and postsecondary effective rates.

The state goal for postsecondary success is 70 to 75 percent. This goal represents what the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce predicts will be the percent of jobs in Kansas that will require some level of postsecondary education by the year 2020.

Watson on Tuesday also discussed Kansas assessment data, which was released as part of the web-based 2016-2017 Kansas Report Card. The report card can be found on the Kansas State Department of Education’s website, www.ksde.org

Bill Mullins, superintendent of Marysville Unified School District 364 and chairman of the Coalition of Innovative School Districts, gave a biannual report to the Kansas State Board of Education. Current Coalition members are McPherson USD 418, Concordia USD 333, Kansas City, Kansas, USD 500, Hugoton USD 210, Blue Valley USD 229, Marysville USD 364 and Fredonia USD 484.

Board members received an update on the Kansas Curricular Standards for English Language Arts (ELA). The ELA standards committee completed its final review of the ELA standard. KSDE’s Dr. Suzy Myers presented the final draft to the board. She was accompanied by Dr. Brent Wolf, a teacher with Derby USD 260 who chaired the ELA standards committee.

The standards are scheduled to be presented to the board for final adoption at the November 2017 State Board of Education meeting.

KSDE’s Jessica Noble provided an update on civic engagement initiatives, such as recent roadshows across the state, the agency’s civic engagement initiative team and the Civic Advocacy Network program.

KSDE’s Kent Reed gave an update on Anti-Bullying Awareness Week, which took place Oct. 2-7. October also is National Bullying Prevention Awareness Month.

In the afternoon, U.S. Rep. Steve Yoder stopped by to discuss federal education issues with board members. Watson gave Yoder an overview of the vision and the five outcomes that will be used to measure the progress of the vision. Yoder then talked about the importance of creating new jobs for Kansans and also providing skilled workers for Kansas employers.

Yoder thanked the board members for their work. He said every child should have a chance to pursue their dreams and that starts with the work board members do at the state level.

Yoder also said he appreciates Kansas’ teachers and all of their hard work.

On Wednesday morning, representatives from the Kansas Alliance for the Arts in Education, including executive director Ken Adams and Alliance president Brad Anderson, gave a presentation to board members. The mission of the Alliance is to ensure that the arts are an integral part of quality preK-12 education to promote students’ personal development and academic performance, Adams said. There are 25 people on the Alliance’s board.

The Alliance works around three goals: advocacy, professional development and building capacity. The group has relationships with several organizations, including KSDE.

The arts also promote mental, physical and emotional well-being, Anderson told board members.

Deputy Commissioner Brad Neuenswander gave an update on the Mercury and Gemini projects. Five of the seven service centers in the state are offering their support and resources to help the Gemini districts, Neuenswander said. KSDE’s redesign specialists Tammy Mitchell and Jay Scott are working with the Mercury districts and visit each district every two weeks. Mitchell and Scott, along with the five service centers, meet with the Gemini districts via Zoom every two weeks. By mid-October the seven Mercury districts had established their visions and goals, Neuenswander said.

The board then recognized the two Kansas schools that received the National PTA School of Excellence award. The program supports and celebrates partnerships between PTAs and schools to enrich the educational experience and overall well-being for all students. The program also reiterates the importance of a joint commitment between PTA and school leaders to work together to achieve PTA’s National Standards for Family-School Partnerships.

The honorees from Kansas for the two-year distinction (2017-2019) are Belinder Elementary School and Indian Hills Middle School, both in Shawnee Mission USD 512.

Board members also:

•    Received information about adding provisions of 2017 HB 2048 (Erin’s Law) to the Kansas Education Systems Accreditation regulations. Scott Gordon, with KSDE’s Office of General Counsel, explained the process for adding the provisions to the proposed amendments.
•    Received an update on Career and Technical Education (CTE).

The next board meeting will take place Nov. 14 and 15 at the Landon State Office Building in Topeka, 900 S.W. Jackson.

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