August 15, 2014


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


Highlights of the August Kansas State Board of Education Meeting


TOPEKA -- The Kansas State Board of Education approved an amendment to Emergency Safety Intervention (ESI) regulation 91-42-3, exempting certified law enforcement officers from ESI regulations, which prohibit the use of prone restraint. The Special Education Advisory Council (SEAC) brought forth this recommendation to the board with the explanation that while the regulations are intended for all school personnel, they were never intended to interfere with the duties of sworn, certified law enforcement officers ensuring the safety of Kansas students and teachers. KSDE staff also updated board members on progress being made in the development of an appeals process in situations where a complaint is filed as a result of the use of safety intervention methods on a student. SEAC members will meet on August 22 to develop its appeals policy recommendation to present to the board at a future meeting.


In other action, the board approved the bylaws created by the Coalition of Innovative Districts Board. The Coalition of Innovative Districts Act was developed as a result of 2013 House Bill 2319 (K.S.A 1921-1930), allowing up to ten percent of the state’s school districts, at any one time, to opt out of most state laws and rules and regulations in order to improve student achievement. The bylaws define the purpose, structure, membership and required reports of the Coalition of Innovative Districts Board. The coalition board is scheduled to meet on August 27 to approve innovative district applications Kansas City, Hugoton, Blue Valley, and Santa Fe Trail school districts.


Kansas teachers representing, English language arts (ELA), science, math and history, government and social studies, and who participated in KSDE’s 2014 Summer Academies, provided board members with an update on the progress schools are making implementing the Kansas College and Career Standards. Julie Aikins, an ELA teacher from Chanute, reported that she sees teachers shifting from being concerned about what the assessments look like to being focused on what quality instruction looks like. She sees ELA teachers across the state feeling very positive about the standards. Elisa Dorian, a math teacher from Lansing, reported that many math teachers were apprehensive about the standards the first few days of the academy, but quickly gained confidence. Dorian showed math teachers the differences and similarities in the current standards versus the former standards, emphasizing that it’s not just about what they are teaching but how they are teaching it. When questioned by a board member as to what she would say to someone who claims the standards are “dumbing down our kids,” Dorian responded, “Parents need to understand the shift that’s taking place in the classroom. It’s a process now. We are teaching students to think and problem solve without assistance to gain a much deeper level of understanding. We’re not dumbing them down, we’re amping them up.” Julie Aikins added, “With good scaffolding to get them there. How could we not want this for our kids? The standards are much more rigorous.” All agreed that kids want to know “why” and instead of telling them “why,” they teach the students to dig down deep to figure out the “why.”


Before providing his assessment update to the board, Dr. Scott Smith, director of career, assessments and standards, introduced Beth Fultz as KSDE’s new assistant director of assessments. Beth had previously served as KSDE’s National Association of Educational Progress (NAEP) program consultant.


Smith updated the board on plans to field test listening items, which will be added to the state assessment in 2016. The original plan was to begin field testing these new listening items in spring 2015, but are now planning to hold that until fall 2015 to provide schools more time to acquire listening equipment and increased bandwidth. The new items will be piloted with a smaller state sample group to gather data needed to assess the new items. Smith advised that students will see some new math items added to the 2015 state assessment, but will otherwise notice few changes from the 2014 assessment.


Jay Scott, who leads KSDE’s Career Technical Education program, presented board members with a look at the progress of the program. Nearly 100 secondary pathways were added to the 16 career clusters last year. These pathways lead to high-demand and high-skill or high-demand and high-wage careers with post-secondary connections and/or industry credentials/certification. There are currently 2,298 approved pathways for Kansas students to pursue. The number of students earning at least three credits in an approved pathway increased from 7,617 in 2013 to 7,705 in 2014 and the number of participating school districts increased from 108 to 160. During the same period, the number of secondary students earning college credits increased from 44,082 to 60,799.


The next meeting of the Kansas State Board of Education is scheduled for September 16-17 in room 102 of the Landon State Office Building.