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May Kansas State Board of Education Meeting, May 17-18

Posted: May 19, 2016
Author: Ann Bush

May Kansas State Board of Education Meeting, May 17-18

The proposed Kansas Education Systems Accreditation Model must help the Kansas State Board of Education meet its new vision, support school districts where they are, be flexible and be rigorous enough to challenge everyone’s thinking, said Deputy Commissioner of Education Brad Neuenswander.

Neuenswander and Dr. Scott Myers, director of teacher licensure and accreditation, updated State Board members on KESA during the board’s May meeting, which took place May 17-18 at the Landon State Office Building.

Bert Moore, superintendent for West Elk Unified School District 282, had been scheduled to present at an April State Board work session. However, Moore was sick and couldn’t attend. KSDE staff members asked Moore to present during the May board meeting. He shared a small rural district’s perspective on KESA.

The biggest change with the proposed KESA model is the systems approach vs. the building approach. This would mean accreditation is issued at the district level instead of the individual school level.

The tentative timeline for implementing the proposed model has the board approving the new model in the spring of 2016. KSDE would send regulations into the legal vetting process during the summer months.  In the spring of 2017, the board would adopt final regulations, and in the summer of 2017, “Year One” would begin. Group One systems would receive official KESA rating in the spring of 2018.

Since 1992, Kansas has used Quality Performance Assessment. With the changes, there would be an outside validation team instead of assurances. It would be a five-year cycle instead of annual, and it would include the 5 Rs framework instead of the quality criteria. As of 2014, other states accrediting districts included Arkansas, Colorado, Mississippi, Missouri, New Mexico, South Carolina, Texas and Wyoming.

Board chairman Jim McNiece said he anticipates the board will take action on KESA at the June meeting.

Board members also approved the Kansas Seal of Biliteracy credential for graduating students.

Phyllis Farrar, an education program consultant of world languages for KSDE, gave a short presentation and update on the Kansas Seal of Biliteracy credential. A student can earn a certificate by demonstrating strong or fluent skills in more than one language. More than 12 other states already have a similar program in place. Each school district in Kansas would be the validator for students, Farrar told the board. Board members had learned about the Seal of Biliteracy during the April meeting.

Kansas Commissioner of Education Dr. Randy Watson updated the State Board on the vision.

“This is a long journey of transformation for our schools,” Watson said.

Watson also gave a short presentation to the board about the U.S. Department of Education and U.S. Department of Justice guidelines on transgender bathrooms. Guidelines don’t necessarily carry the same weight as law, he said. He said the board should take time to study the issue before reacting.

Board member Ken Willard requested that KSBE take a policy stand on the issue.

After discussion, board members voted 6-4 to table it. The six board members who voted to table it said they wanted more time to study the matter.

Board member Carolyn Wims-Campbell introduced Cheryl Brown Henderson. Brown Henderson offered a presentation to commemorate the May 17th anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education decision.

Shortly before a recess for lunch, Jay Scott, KSDE’s Career, Standards and Assessment Services assistant director, updated the board on one of the five board outcomes, Individual Plans of Study. The four ways schools help students develop an IPS currently are counselor-centered; career advisor system (all staff); career advocates; and hybrid. KSDE sent out request for proposals to vendors and is developing a state-preferred vendor list. Beginning July 1, 2016, and continuing through the 2017-2018 school year, KSDE will grant Perkins reserve funds to schools wanting to switch to a state-preferred IPS vendor. The state minimum IPS components are:

  • A graduated series of strength finders and career interest inventories to help students identify preference toward career clusters.
  • 8th through 12 course build function with course selections based on career interest.
  • A general postsecondary plan (military, apprenticeship, two-year and four-year).
  • Portable electronic portfolio.

The purpose of the state-preferred IPS vendor list is to provide schools with options for IPS software programs, Scott said.

IPS vendors have to deliver on all 18 IPS components by the beginning of the 2016-2017 school year and deliver on all 18 IPS components for a reasonable per-student cost.

Schools aren’t required to use a state-preferred vendor or any vender for IPS. There are several schools who have created their own IPS products, Scott said. By the 2017-2018 school year, every middle school and high school in Kansas will have an IPS product and process in place.

The board had a 10-minute executive session for discussion regarding IPS vendors. After returning from the executive session, the board voted 10-0 to move forward with an IPS vendor contract. No vendor names were announced after the session.

After lunch, the State Board had a public hearing on emergency safety interventions. In July, the State Board received a set of new and amended regulations to comply with the Freedom from Unsafe Restraint and Seclusion Act. The State Board approved a set of emergency safety intervention temporary regulations during its February meeting.

Rocky Nichols, executive director of the Disability Rights Center of Kansas, was the only person signed up to speak. He commended the leadership of board member Jim Porter, who serves as the chair of the Emergency Safety Interventions Task Force. Nichols served as the vice chairman. Nichols recommended some amended language. The hearing was closed and the State Board discussed the process for passing regulations.

KSDE’s education program consultant Don Gifford reviewed the background and progress of Civic Engagement Initiatives for Kansas students. Matt Lindsey, president of the Kansas Independent College, and Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt also spoke alongside Gifford about the importance of civic engagement.

State Board members discussed renewing accreditation to all public schools and private schools currently participating in QPA other than St. John’s Military School of Salina and Countryside Christian School of Pittsburg. The accreditation will run through June 30, 2017. The motion passed 10-0.

Deputy Commissioner Dale Dennis gave board members a legislative update. Dennis also spoke about the Extraordinary Need State Aid Program. Each school district that makes application for the program must submit an application on forms provided by the State Department of Education by July 15. Board members Jim Porter and Ken Willard will serve on a committee to review the applications. Also on the committee will be Dennis, Craig Neuenswander, KSDE’s director of school finance, and a superintendent or retired superintendent not involved in any of the applications received. The board approved the Extraordinary Need State Aid Program guidelines as amended with two board members serving on the committee instead of one. The process for the 2016-2017 Extraordinary Need State Aid Program will be completed in August. The Extraordinary Needs Fund will remain in existence until the new funding formula is approved.

Dennis also presented a draft of an application for capital improvement state aid. Board member Sally Cauble will serve on the school bond application team for capital improvement state aid.

On Wednesday, Porter made a motion to approve the Emergency Safety Interventions. In a roll call vote, the regulations were adopted 10-0. Porter then made a motion for staff to include some amended language. KSDE general counsel Scott Gordon told the board that the motion really wasn’t needed because the language is redundant. The motion passed.

Madeleine Burkindine, director of the Kansas State School for the Blind and Kansas State School for the Deaf, presented the third-quarter reports for both schools. The third quarter was Jan. 1-March 31. Marites Altuna has been hired as the new director for the Deafblind Project, Burkindine told board members. She will begin May 23 in a part-time capacity and will become full-time Aug. 1. Burkindine shared a video which some of the School for the Deaf students produced.

Board member Sally Cauble introduced Braxton Moral, a 14-year-old freshman from Ulysses High School student. He is on track to graduate Harvard University’s Extension School the same year he graduates high school. He is attending high school, but also takes two online classes at Harvard during the school day.

Board members ended the meeting with giving reports and requests for future agenda items.

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