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November board highlights: State Board of Education members receive update on completed vision work

November board highlights: State Board of Education members receive update on completed vision work
Posted: Nov 16, 2016
Author: Ann Bush

Kansas State Board of Education members received an in-depth look at vision work completed to date  from Commissioner of Education Randy Watson. He told board members that while assessments are important, the vision is changing how much emphasis is placed on them.

Watson shared a few details on the assessments. He said the 2016 Kansas assessment results are comparable to the 2015 results. However, there was an increase in the number of students performing at the highest level and an increase in the number of students performing at the lowest level.

Also at the meeting, Gary Musselman, executive director of the Kansas State High School Activities Association (KSHSAA), presented the organization’s annual report to the State Board of Education. Musselman delivered copies of the KSHSAA materials for the 2015-2016 school year as required by statute. These included the audit report, directories, journals, minutes from the board of directors’ meetings and a synopsis of major changes by the board.

The board room received a new piece of artwork, too.

Fourth- and fifth-grade students from Caldwell Elementary School who are involved in the Arts Recreation Tutoring for Students (A.R.T.S.) program in Wichita presented the State Board with the artwork.

Artist Susan De Witt helped students create the piece, “What Success Means to Me,” which focuses on the Kansans Can theme. Students made tiles out of clay, and then fifth-grade students used a tool to carve their faces into the tiles. Fourth-grade students then used stamps to color each tile.

“The kids are really excited,” said Holly Wilson, 21st Century Grant program manager for Wichita Public Schools Unified School District 259. “It’s huge for them to come to Topeka. They get to tour the capital and the dome. They are always wowed when they come into town.”

Wilson and A.R.T.S. students earlier created a piece, titled “Hands of Success,” that now hangs in the board room’s east wall.

Students performed and unveiled the new piece, which hangs on the board’s west wall.

Sandra Thomas, chief operating officer of Istation, gave a presentation on the Kansas Reading for Success initiative. Istation, which was founded in 1998, is the approved vendor for the program. Istation launched in Kansas in October 2015. There are more than 4.5 million student subscribers throughout Istation’s service area. Currently in Kansas, there are 13,916 student subscribes, in grades Pre-K-8, this is a 19 percent increase from 2015.

It costs $2.1 million to offer service to 355,000 K-8 eligible students.

The goal of Istation is to have every student meet their full reading potential. Computer adaptive assessments pinpoint the literacy needs of every child. Individualized, appropriate instruction provides each child with a personalized learning path to build foundational reading skills.

Kathleen Sanders, a professor at Fort Hays State University, and other FHSU staff members gave a data analysis and evaluation for the 2015-2016 Istation contract. The purpose of the FHSU research is to examine the effects of the Istation Reading program on elementary school students’ reading ability. Reading abilities include alphabetic decoding, comprehension, listening comprehension, letter knowledge, phonemic awareness and others.

Istation does work well with Kansas students, Sanders said.

FHSU wants to collaborate with KSDE in order to access more detailed student data. Because of an increase in the number of districts and students, significantly more data will be collected and analyzed, which will result in richer analysis.

Board members also voted unanimously to approve the revised educator preparation program standards for biology (sixth through 12th), Earth and space science (sixth through 12th) and science (fifth through eighth).

For biology, (sixth through 12th), the total number of standards was reduced to enhance standards alignment with assessment tools in biology (sixth through 12th). Previous biology standards began with biology-specific content understanding, followed by science teaching knowledge and skills. Revised standards begins with science teaching knowledge skills followed by four biology-specific content understanding standards.

Board members also recognized the 2014 and 2015 National Finalists for the Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching. Each Kansas finalist receives a $10,000 unrestricted award from the National Science Foundation, as well as a week-long conference in Washington, D.C., where they had an opportunity to network with finalists from other states.

The 2014 recipients are Michelle Kelly, a kindergarten and first-grade teacher at Basehor Elementary School, Basehor-Linwood USD 458, and Brandi Leggett, an instructional coach at Rosehill Elementary School, Shawnee Mission USD 512.

The 2015 recipients are Trissa McCabe, who teaches eighth-grade mathematics at Reno Valley Middle School, Nickerson USD 309, and Denise Scribner, who teachers ninth- through 12-grade biology at Eisenhower High School, Goddard USD 265. 

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