For Immediate Release

February 24, 2014

Denise Kahler, Director of Communications, 785-296-4876

 

Highlights of the February Kansas State Board of Education Meeting

 

TOPEKA – During its February meeting, the Kansas State Board of Education (KSBE) reviewed proposed amendments to teacher licensure requirements recommended by the Professional Standards Board and its subcommittee the Regulations Committee. In support of the board’s established goals and objectives, the recommendations addressed enhanced options for Career and Technical Education (CTE) educators, which include offering a permit certificate that would allow a school district to bring in a professional from a specific vocational area to the school on a limited basis; creating a direct-entry special education license; and considerations for out-of-state alternative route completers that would include acceptance of a set amount of successful experience completed by the applicant in lieu of review by the Licensure Review Committee. The board will next submit the amendments for attorney review prior to being submitted to the Regulatory Committee.  Kansas is working to have the amendments approved in time for next year’s school hiring decisions.

 

Board members also reviewed a proposed change to Kansas Administrative Regulation 91-1-214, criminal history check that would require all licensed educators in Kansas to have a complete set of fingerprints on file. As of 2002, all applicants for a new license or renewal of an expired license are required to submit fingerprints for background information from both the KBI and FBI. Approximately 35,000 educators in Kansas licensed prior to 2002 currently do not have a set of fingerprints on file for use by the Kansas State Board of Education. The board will vote at is March meeting whether to approve this proposed regulation change.

 

Dr. Marianne Perie, co-director of the Center for Educational Testing and Evaluation (CETE) and project director of the Kansas Assessment Program, provided an update on the development progress of the new state assessment. CETE released a practice test in January, which Dr. Perie demonstrated and can be accessed at www.ksassessments.org, and will go live with the transition test on March 10 when the testing window opens. Perie reminded board members that CETE will include math performance tasks, essays and listening items on the 2015 assessment for field testing, with the complete enhancements finalized and included on the 2016 assessment. KSDE and CETE have met with the board of regents and are traveling throughout the state to engage stakeholders in the development of assessment items.

 

Deputy Commissioner Brad Neuenswander reported that considerable work continues on Kansas’ Elementary and Secondary Education Act flexibility waiver. Kansas will seek to extend its current waiver for another year. All waivers are set to expire in June this year, however because No Child Left Behind has not been reinstated, the U.S. Department of Education (USDE) is offering states waiver extensions for one more year. Additionally, KSDE will be responding to its current conditional high risk waiver status, which involves how Kansas chooses to use student growth data as a factor in teacher/leader evaluations. Neuenswander believes the USDE is supportive of the state’s plan for use of this data and hopes to have the high risk status lifted. KSDE will also be submitting amendments to its current waiver, which include approval of CETE developing the Kansas state assessment, approval of the state’s proposed assessment model that allows for multiple assessment options at the high school level, and approval of how Kansas will identify those schools “Not Making Progress.”

 

KSDE Healthy Kansas Schools Project Director Dr. Mark Thompson presented the findings from the Kansas Fit Information Tracking (K-FIT) System study conducted in partnership with Kansas Department of Health and Environment and funded by the Kansas Health Foundation (KHF). The partnering organizations launched a statewide initiative in 2011 to track and improve fitness in Kansas schools. This K-FIT initiative links fitness test results using a fitness assessment tool called FitnessGram® with academic performance of students in grades 4-9. The results concluded that the odds of being above math and reading performance standards were significantly higher among students who met fitness standards in all five fitness tests compared to those who did not. For students who met fitness standards for zero to one fitness tests, 50.4 and 41.8 percent scored above standard on reading and math assessments, respectively. In comparison, among students who met fitness standards for all five fitness tests, 73.5 and 70.3 percent scored above standard on reading and math assessments, respectively. This announcement is part of a new collaboration between Kansas Healthy Schools and KHF to facilitate a pattern of healthy behaviors among the youth in Kansas.

 

Laura Downey, executive director of the Kansas Association for Conservation and Environmental Education (KACEE) was invited to share with board members about her organization’s efforts to advance environmental education in Kansas. KACEE works to provide students with an appreciation for air and water quality, climate change, energy, reduction and recycling of solid waste, and wildlife habitat, while fostering real world hands-on investigations, data collection and analysis and critical thinking. More than 450 schools participate in the Kansas Green Schools program, which provides educational opportunities to increase awareness and understanding of environmental interrelationships that impact public health and society, and that promote responsible environmental stewardship practices.  KSDE is partnering with KACEE to promote the National Green Ribbon School Recognition Program, an award given to select schools across the nation that are recognized for saving energy, reducing costs, featuring environmentally sustainable learning spaces, protecting health, fostering wellness, and offering environmental education to boost academic achievement and community engagement.

 

Board members also had the opportunity to hear from eight members of the 2014 Kansas Teacher of the Year Team. KTOY team member presentations from Brandi Leggett, De Soto USD 232; Jennifer Bailey, Valley Center USD 262; Jennifer Smith, Blue Valley USD 229; Jenny Nash, Paola USD 368; Katie Perez, Hutchinson USD 308; Marney Hay, Maize USD 266; Mary Lonker, Wamego USD 320; and Jeff Baxter, Leavenworth USD 453 provided the board with examples of how Kansas College and Career Ready Standards are being implemented in their classrooms, described the unique needs of middle school learners, the importance of all-day kindergarten and the need to keep learning relevant and engaging. Board member Deena Horst commented, “You have helped us see the difference in what we were doing and what we will be doing and how important that is for students. I wish every parent in the state could hear you speak.”

 

The next meeting of the Kansas State Board of Education is a one-day meeting scheduled for March 11 in room 102 of the Landon State Office Building.