TOPEKA – During the November meeting of the Kansas State Board of Education, Brad Neuenswander, deputy commissioner of Learning Services presented members of the board with their first look at the 2013 Kansas School Report Card achievements based on the four Annual Measurable Objectives (AMOs) approved through the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) Flexibility Waiver. This new system provides Kansas a multi-dimensional look at student achievement based on academic performance, academic growth, progress towards reducing the proficiency gap, and progress towards reducing the percentage of students scoring below proficiency, rather than the single percent proficiency previously used known as Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP). While board members agreed that the new system provides schools and teachers with more robust information, they also agreed that the system will require more education for schools and parents to fully understand the new measurements.

Kansas’ assessment scores declined for a second year in a row in Reading and Mathematics, but increased slightly in Science. Neuenswander reminded board members that 2013 marked the third year that Kansas teachers have been teaching to the new Kansas College and Career Standards for Reading and Math, but the assessment being used is still aligned to the former standards. Kansas University’s Center for Educational Testing and Evaluation (CETE) is currently developing a transitional assessment that is 100 percent aligned to the new standards and will be administered during the 2013-2014 assessment period.

Kansas’ graduation rates increased from 83 percent in 2011 to 84.9 percent in 2012, and attendance rates remain high at 94.9 percent.

Neuenswander also shared the Kansas College & Career Ready Assessment Advisory Council’s recommendation to the board to provide a hybrid assessment model for Kansas. The advisory council, made up of school superintendents, building principals
district curriculum leaders, district testing coordinators, members of the Kansas Teacher of the Year team, KSDE staff and staff from CETE at KU, proposed assessing grades 3-8 using the Smarter Balanced assessment, and providing students at the high school level the option to take the assessment most meaningful to them, whether that is the ACT, SAT, CPASS, or DLM. The cost for the Smarter Balanced assessment would require an additional $1.8 million be added to the budget. The board asked KSDE staff to research what the cost would be to have CETE develop the assessment and to provide that information to them prior to their next board meeting. CETE representatives estimate it will take approximately four years to develop an assessment that is comparable to the Smarter Balanced assessment. The board will review KSDE’s findings at its December meeting.

State Board members honored the state’s 2013 Blue Ribbon Schools. The National Blue Ribbon Schools award distinguishes and honors elementary, middle and high schools for helping students achieve at high levels and for showing significant improvement in students’ levels of achievement. Principal Myron Regier of Campus High School, USD 261; Principal Kevin Suther, Chapman High School, USD 473 Chapman; Principal Debra Bond, Mission Trail Elementary School, USD 229 Blue Valley; Principal Janie Allison, Oswego Neosho Heights Elementary School, USD 504 Oswego; and Principal Rick Smith, West Franklin High School, USD 287 West Franklin shared with board members what they found to be the most significant factors in raising student achievement at their schools.

Representatives from Pittsburg State University (PSU) attended the November meeting to dedicate the new board table, constructed by the university’s Wood Technology Program. In attendance were Steve Scott, PSU President; John Patterson, PSU Vice President; Bruce Dallman, Dean of the College of Technology; Doug Hague, Assistant Professor of Wood Technology; Charlie Phillips, Instructor, Technology Studies; and PSU students Sam Kuglin, and Mark Welle. Doug Hague shared details about the unique woods used to construct the board table and the thought behind the artistic detailing, which include a wood inlay of the State of Kansas. Said Hague, “We thought it was appropriate to add this detail to the portion of the table where the State Board Chair sits because it’s a reminder that every decision the board makes affects the entire state.” Hague estimates that approximately 700-800 hours went into completing the project.

The board voted to approve the appointment of Linda Sieck, a middle/secondary teacher in the Shawnee Missions school district, to a partial term on the Professional Practices Commission (PPC) to run from November 12, 2013 through June 30, 2014. The PPC is responsible for exercising disciplinary and advisory functions relating to the issuance, suspension, revocation or reinstatement of teachers’ and school administrators’ licenses in accordance with the rules and regulations established by the Kansas State Board of Education.

The board also voted to appoint Carla Maneth, an elementary school teacher in the Great Bend school district, to a three-year term on the Licensure Review Committee to run from November 12, 2013 through June 30, 2016. The Licensure Review Committee is responsible for reviewing the qualifications of applicants seeking licensure in Kansas but who do not meet all of the requirements as specified in the State Board regulations.

KSDE Education Consultant Phyllis Farrar presented the board with a recommendation from the English Language Proficiency Standards Committee to adopt new English Language Proficiency (ELP) Standards that correspond to the Kansas College and Career Ready Standards for English Language Arts, Mathematics and Science. These standards would replace the current English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) standards. The board will review the standards and vote at its December 2013 meeting whether to adopt for Kansas.

The board also reviewed proposed Kansas Handwriting Curricular Standards, which it requested be developed for Kansas educators. KSBE believes that cursive handwriting as a student skill still holds an important place in the instructional practice of every school’s curriculum and can be integrated into multiple content areas. KSDE developed these standards with assistance from the Central Comprehensive Center (C3) and Center on Enhancing Early Learning Outcomes (CEELO). A Kansas committee of 15 educators provided periodic input during the development process and more than 200 educators and parents provided public feedback on the proposed standards. The board will vote at its December 2013 meeting whether to adopt the standards.

The next meeting of the Kansas State Board of Education will take place on December 10-11 in Room 102 (Board Room) of the Landon State Office Building.