Aspiring Kansas educators seeking a standard initial teaching license will no longer have to take the Principle of Learning and Teaching (PLT) pedagogy exam as a requirement for licensure.
The Kansas State Board of Education during its September meeting approved licensure test changes recommended by the Professional Standards Board.
The State Board met Tuesday, Sept. 12, and Wednesday, Sept. 13, in Topeka.
Shane Carter, director of the Kansas State Department of Education’s (KSDE) Teacher Licensure team, shared the recommendations with State Board members.
Recommendations approved by the State Board were:
The process to make these changes began after members of the Teacher Licensure team met with education stakeholders in the summer 2022. During the meetings, it was determined that Teacher Licensure should create a working group to examine test issues and make recommendations to adjust testing recommendations as needed.
In September 2022, Teacher Licensure, along with a group of school district administrators, educator preparation providers and additional stakeholders, reviewed test data completed during the past five years and collected information on test issues. That working group met through January 2023 and then submitted recommendations to the Professional Standards Board.
The PLT was removed as a requirement because it measures the same competencies as a Work Sample performance assessment that all Kansas teacher candidates are required to complete. However, the Work Sample performance assessment is a better measure of competencies because the teacher candidate has to demonstrate proficiency rather than just answering multiple choice questions (PLT).
Early Childhood Transition Task Force update
Amanda Petersen, director of KSDE’s Early Childhood team and a member of Gov. Laura Kelly’s Early Childhood Transition Task Force, gave State Board of Education members an update on the task force’s work.
Gov. Kelly signed an executive order in January 2023 to establish the task force, which is charged with reviewing Kansas’ early childhood programs and developing a roadmap for the creation of a new state, cabinet-level agency focused solely on supporting the success of Kansas children.
The Early Childhood Transition Task Force met in March, May and August. It hosted nine regional feedback sessions between June 27-30, Petersen said.
Work groups comprised of task force members are meeting virtually this month and in October to discuss what programs the new, proposed agency would administer; how the agency will track efficiency and effectiveness; and how a transition should occur.
On Oct. 18, members of the task force plan to meet to review and refine a draft report, Petersen said. The final report will be adopted and presented the week of Dec. 11.
Currently, the KSDE Early Childhood team oversees the Kansas Kindergarten Readiness Snapshot Tool; Kansas Parents as Teachers (KPAT); preschool programming, including early childhood special education, the Preschool-Aged At-Risk program and Kansas Preschool Pilot grants; and early childhood collaborations, including Kansas Early Learning Standards and support for the State Interagency Coordinating Council and local interagency coordinating councils.
There are some opportunities to better coordinate and streamline programming, Petersen told the State Board. These include:
Policies, procedures for instructional materials use
Deputy Commissioner Dr. Ben Proctor and Angela Stallbaumer, deputy executive director and general counsel with the Kansas Association of School Boards spoke to State Board of Education members about policies and procedures for instructional materials use.
Stallbaumer shared KASB’s recommended policy on instructional materials use.
Local boards of education are responsible for establishing specific guidance for textbooks and instructional materials
If someone wants to challenge textbooks or instructional materials, the first step is to meet with the teacher or media specialist, Stallbaumer said. If the issue isn’t resolved, the school’s principal, superintendent and local school board can be included.
The local board may forward the concern to a review committee made up of a building principal, library media specialist, two subject area specialists, two community members and one student (if appropriate).
The local school board must review the recommendations of the review committee within 30 days of receiving the report and can accept or reject the recommendation or make its own determination. The decision of the local board of education is final.
Challenged materials can be removed from use during the review period at the discretion of the superintendent.
Several State Board members gave input on the subject. They ultimately agreed that it should be up to parents to choose what materials their children read. Several board members clarified that the discussion in no way implicated educators in teaching inappropriate materials.
Kansas Standards for Library and Information Literacy
KSDE’s Nathan McAlister, humanities manager on the Career, Standards and Assessment Services (CSAS) team, along with Rachel Yoder, a library media specialist for Hesston Unified School District 460, and Dr. Mirah Dow, a professor at Emporia State University, presented Kansas Standards for Library/Information Literacy to State Board members.
The current Kansas Curricular Content Standards for Library/Information and Technology haven’t been reviewed since their adoption in 2017, McAlister said. Kansas library educators requested a review of the standards, so a Library Review Committee, comprised of volunteer library educators representing all grade levels, was created to help with the review.
Yoder and Dow are co-chairs of the Library Review Committee.
The library standards aren’t assessed curricular standards.
The committee began meeting virtually in May 2023, and a draft of the standards was finalized in August 2023. The group decided a new title, Kansas Standards for Library and Information Literacy, emphasizes teaching and learning of information literacy skills as indicated across all content areas.
The revised standards will be posted for public comment on the KSDE website for 30 days to get feedback from the public. There also will be two, one-hour Zoom public comment forums to receive feedback.
2023 Sunflower Summer recap
State Board of Education members received an overview of the 2023 Sunflower Summer program from Michael Koonce, director of administrative services for Greenbush Education Service Center.
The Sunflower Summer program was created in 2021 at the request of Kansas educators to provide opportunities for student learning during the summer months and to encourage family engagement in the process.
During the three years that KSDE oversaw the program, there were 597,066 participants. The breakdown for all three years was:
The total cost was $7,865,110, Koonce told Board members.
The summer of 2023 was the last year that KSDE will be involved in the program, Commissioner Watson said. The Kansas Legislature allocated $6 million to fund Sunflower Summer for 2024 and 2025, but the program will transfer to the Kansas Department of Commerce’s Tourism Division.
School improvement update
Deputy Commissioner Proctor updated State Board members on the work of KSDE’s School Improvement Work Group.
The work group is focusing on direction and aligning supports to school systems to positively impact Kansas students; establishing four fundamentals as the frame of reference for work; and building a coherent, focused system of supports that will help meet the outcomes and vision for education in Kansas.
Board members will receive another presentation in October to learn about the conceptual framework that connects the fundamentals to school improvement and accreditation in the state.
State Board members recognized Noor Haideri, who is a senior at Blue Valley High School, as the 2022 Breakthrough Junior Challenge winner. Dianne Dunn, an anatomy and physiology teacher at Blue Valley High School, Haideri’s family members and Brad Page, assistant principal at the high school, attended the State Board meeting.
The Breakthrough Junior Challenge is a global science video competition for high school students. The competition challenges students to explain a complex scientific idea in two minutes or less using a video format.
Haideri submitted her video in June 2022 and found out Sept. 5, 2022, that she was in the top 30. In her submission, Haideri explained how blue light emitted from technology devices can disrupt sleep patterns.
Haideri was notified that she won the competition during a surprise announcement at her school on Feb. 2, 2023, and in April attended an awards ceremony emceed by James Corden, an English actor and comedian. While at the event, Haideri had the opportunity to meet actors, actresses, musicians and other award winners.
Haideri received a $250,000 college scholarship, the installation of a new state-of-the-art science lab for her high school and a $50,000 cash award for Dunn, her science teacher.
Considerations for use of technology devices
KSDE’s Jake Steel, director of Strategy and Operational Alignment, and Trish Backman, school mental health coordinator for the Special Education and Title Services (SETS) team, shared considerations for use of technology devices by children.
One in seven countries globally have banned the use of smartphones in school, Steel said. In those seven countries, academic performance improved as a result, particularly for low-performing students.
Wichita USD 259 recently cracked down on cell phone use in classrooms, Steel said.
Screen time guidelines – from the American Academy of Pediatrics - shared with State Board members include:
State Board of Education members on Wednesday approved the Accreditation Review Council’s (ARC’s) recommendations to accredit one public system and three private systems, and conditionally accredit seven public systems and one private system through Kansas Education Systems Accreditation (KESA). These 12 systems entered KESA in the first year and paused in year four during the 2020-2021 school year.
The ARC can make a recommendation of:
The ARC recommended, and the State Board approved, the following systems for accredited status:
The ARC recommended, and the State Board approved, that the following systems be conditionally accredited:
State Board members received additional ARC recommendations this month for action at their October meeting.
The ARC recommends that the following systems be accredited:
The ARC recommends that the following systems be conditionally accredited:
The ARC recommends that the following system not be accredited:
KSDE’s Dr. Jay Scott, director of Accreditation and Design (AD), introduced the State Board to ARC members and thanked them for their leadership.
The council accredited 179 systems this year and a total of 361 systems during the past six years.
Kansas Volunteer Commission
Dr. Jessica Dorsey, executive director of the Kansas Volunteer Commission, gave an informational presentation about the commission. The vision of the Kansas Volunteer Commission is to empower all Kansans to meet community needs through service.
The commission was established in 1993 and has been a program of KSDE since the early 2000s, Dorsey said.
The Kansas Volunteer Commission supports the civic engagement of KSDE through a monthly civic engagement webinar and the Civic Advocacy Network (CAN). CAN recognizes schools that actively involve students in civic engagement opportunities. The goal of CAN is to promote civic engagement as part of all pre-K-12 students’ experiences.
As the state service commission, the Kansas Volunteer Commission promotes AmeriCorps national service, volunteer engagement, youth mentoring and civic engagement.
The commission receives $3.4 million in funding annually from AmeriCorps, which is a network of national service programs that empower people to improve their communities.
Interim legislative committees
Deputy Commissioner Dr. Craig Neuenswander spoke to State Board members about interim legislative committees.
The following are the legislative interim committees:
The board approved a request to contract with the Kansas Educational Leadership Institute (KELI) for mentoring services to district administrators from July 1, 2024, through June 30, 2029, in an amount not to exceed $60,000 annually.
Carter, director of KSDE’s Teacher Licensure, provided State Board members with an overview of KELI.
KELI is based at Kansas State University in Manhattan and has provided district administrator mentoring and training since 2011, Carter said. The organization collaborates with KSDE, the United School Administrators of Kansas, KASB and the Kansas School Superintendents’ Association.
This is a renewal contract, Carter said. KELI will continue to collaborate and provide school district administrator mentoring and training and will assist in the development of Kansas leadership standards.
Funding for AP Seminar: English 10 assessment
The board also approved reimbursing students for taking an assessment aligned with AP Seminar: English 10 coursework.
Joann McRell, KSDE’s humanities program manager, explained that by the State Board covering the costs of the assessments, KSDE will be able to identify a base level for the assessment and compare it to the 2025 assessment.
The State Board will meet next Oct. 10-11 at the Landon State Office Building, 900 S.W. Jackson St., Suite 102, in Topeka.
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