July 15, 2014

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

Highlights of the July Kansas State Board of Education Meeting


The Kansas State Board of Education (KSBE) voted Tuesday, July 8 to not release any individual, building-, district- or state-level assessment scores for 2014, citing a cyber-attack and early system glitches that impacted the validity of some student scores. Instead, the board approved the suggestion of Dr. Marianne Perie, director of the Center for Educational Testing and Evaluation, the contractor that developed and administered the assessment, to develop score-free, grade- and subject-specific reports that provide feedback to students, parents and teachers about generalized findings, including examples of item types where students demonstrated mastery and where they struggled


Emporia USD 253 Assistant Superintendent, George Abel, chair of the Kansas Assessment Advisory Council told board members that even though 2014 assessment scores will not be released, he believes testing the new assessment aligned to the current standards was a much more valuable experience for schools, districts and students than if they had used the former assessment aligned to standards no long relevant.  Dr. Scott Smith, Kansas State Department of Education’s director of Career Standards and Assessments provided the board a summary of what was accomplished during the pilot of the new state assessment, including:

•                 Assessing students for the first time on the state’s current academic standards in math and English Language Arts,

•                 Assessing students using the Kansas Interactive Test Engine (KITE) a year in advance,

•                 Introducing students and teachers to new technology-enhanced assessment items, with a focus on how to make TE items accessible for students with disabilities,

•                 Providing districts the opportunity to troubleshoot any technology issues one year in advance of 2015 federal requirements for state assessments,

•                 Field testing the delivery system’s compatibility with iPads, Chromebooks, Macs, and PCs,

•                 Testing the response time and capacity of the KSDE and CETE help desk resources,

•                 Piloting new assessment tools and accommodations not available with the old test engine,

•                 Generating item-level data needed to finalize operational test forms for 2015,

•                 Identifying need to revise Formative Assessment Policy – found too many teachers using the system for formative assessments, which  took up space on the system

•                 Identifying and mapping peak testing times, and

•                 Receiving positive feedback on the format of the new assessment and the KITE user interface.


When asked about the potential impact on Kansas’ federal waiver of not reporting assessment scores this year, Interim Education Commissioner Brad Neuenswander assured board members that KSDE has been in regular communication with the US Department of Education throughout the assessment period and is optimistic USDE will approve the waiver.


KSDE and CETE will continue to work on assessment enhancements in preparation for the 2015 assessment year, including the addition of an essay prompt for English language arts and a multi-step math performance task. Additionally, in preparation for the 2015 assessment year, plans are underway to host a “Break KITE (Kansas Interactive Testing Engine) Day” where all schools will be asked to login to the assessment at the same time to ensure no performance issues  arise.


KSDE Director of Early Childhood Special Education and Title Services Colleen Riley presented a recommendation from the Special Education Advisory Council (SEAC) to amend the Emergency Safety Intervention (ESI) regulation, which went into effect in April 2013, to exempt certified law enforcement officers from the regulations. The exemption is in response to a direct conflict between the ESI regulations’ prohibition on prone (face-down) restraint and a sworn, certified law enforcement officer’s need to use prone restraint when making an arrest. Riley told board members that it was never SEAC’s intention to interfere in any way with the duties of certified law enforcement officers to ensure the safety of Kansas students and teachers in Kansas schools. SEAC does affirm the need for all school personnel to adhere to the ESI regulations. Starting in August 2013, all accredited schools in Kansas were required to implement the ESI regulations. The board is scheduled to vote on the proposed amendment to the regulations at its August board meeting. 


KSBE members Jim McNiece and Deena Horst continue to work with members of the Coalition of Innovative Districts to establish guidelines and bylaws for how the coalition will operate in conjunction with the board. The two met with Coalition of Innovative Districts superintendents Randy Watson and Bev Mortimer, as well as Interim Education Commissioner Brad Neuenswander, on July 1 to begin the process of drafting bylaws. McNiece and Horst presented the draft to board members for their review and input. The group will continue working to refine the bylaws.


KSDE Teacher Licensure and Accreditation Assistant Director Bill Bagshaw presented board members with an update on work regarding teacher/leader evaluations. As stipulated within the Kansas Flexibility Waiver, all schools are required to go live with their new educator evaluation systems in the coming school year that are to be used for continual improvement of instruction; use at least three performance levels; use multiple measures including student growth as significant factors; are used to evaluate on a regular basis; provide clear, timely and useful feedback; and are used to inform personnel decisions. Districts have the option of using KSDE’s Kansas Educator Evaluation Protocol, known as KEEP, at no charge or may opt to contract with an outside vendor, provided the system meets KSDE’s criteria for approval.


Teachers and leaders will co-construct educator evaluation measures to include three student growth measures and Instructional Practice Protocol. One growth measure must be a Kansas State Assessment for those teachers of tested grades and subjects. Other growth measures could include commercially- and locally-developed assessments. Bagshaw emphasized that state assessments would carry no more or no less weight than any other growth measure selected. Instructional Practice Protocol for teachers would include student learning, content knowledge, instructional practice and professional responsibility.

All Kansas school districts will determine an overall Summative Evaluation Rating per evaluated educator regardless of the evaluation system chosen by a district.


A teacher/principal must meet two of the three growth measures in order to receive a Summary Rating of Effective. KSDE will define for the state what it means to meet growth on Kansas State Assessments.

A Summary Rating for Educator Instructional Practice will be determined by using vetted rubrics for any evaluation system chosen by a district. A Summary Rating for Student Growth and a Summary Rating for Educator Instructional Practice, combined, will determine the overall Summative Evaluation Rating.


Bagshaw and his staff have been conducting training sessions throughout the state to help prepare districts for the new evaluation process.


Two Kansas teachers were recently inducted into the National Teachers Hall of Fame, which is located in Emporia, Kansas and was founded in 1989 by Emporia State University (ESU), ESU’s Alumni Association, the City of Emporia, Emporia USD 253, and the Emporia Area Chamber of Commerce as a tribute to the nation’s teaching profession. The two inductees, Jan Alderson, a science teacher from Shawnee Mission South High School and Cindy Couchman, a mathematics teacher at Buhler High School, presented to the board what they believe to be the greatest opportunities for education in Kansas. Couchman praised the board for giving the profession “Voice and Choice” by giving educators the opportunity to provide input into the state’s academic standards, advocating for local control and working with the Coalition for Innovative Districts. She asked board members to keep in mind the need for professional learning whenever a new program is launched – reminding the board that there is often times a lot coming at teachers and they need this professional learning to collaborate, process and learn.


Alderson and Couchman represent the eighth and ninth Kansas teachers inducted into the National Teachers Hall of Fame, which honors five of the nation’s most outstanding educators each year.


Board members spent a significant portion of the meeting reviewing budget options and making budget decisions for fiscal years 2016 and 2017. KSDE staff will proceed with preparing the budgets, which must be submitted by September 15.


The next meeting of the Kansas State Board of Education is scheduled for August 12-13 in Board Room 102 of the Landon State Office Building at 900 SW Jackson Street, located in Topeka, Kansas.