KSDE Weekly

Accountability, Accreditation and Assessments

Commissioner Watson, KSDE staff members share updates at Great Ideas in Education Conference

Kansas Commissioner of Education Dr. Randy Watson, along with Deputy Commissioner Dr. Ben Proctor and Accreditation and Design Director Dr. Jay Scott, spent about three hours on Friday, Oct. 27, giving updates and sharing new information with attendees of the Great Ideas in Education Conference.

Watson was the keynote speaker on the last day of the two and one-half day conference in Wichita.

“You are doing remarkably well with the students you are serving,” Watson told the hundreds of educators gathered in the ballroom of the Hyatt Regency Wichita.

Watson shared that the graduation rate goal in Kansas is 95%. In 2022, the state was at 89.3%. Graduation rates continue to rise, especially in special population groups. He presented graduation rates from 2022 because the 2023 graduation information won’t be available until later this year.

From 2016 (86.1%) to 2022 (89.3%), Kansas saw an increase of 3.7%. The graduation rates of English Language Learners, students with disabilities and students who receive free and reduced-price lunches also saw increases.

From 2016 (77.4%) to 2022 (83%), there was an increase of 7.2% of students with disabilities who graduated. From 2016 (77.7%) to 2022 (84.4%), ELL students had an increase of 8.6%. There was an increase of 5.6% in students graduating who receive free and reduced-price lunches, from 77.8% in 2016 to 82.2% in 2022.

While these numbers are encouraging, the state still has work to do, Watson said. In order to reach the 95% graduation rate goal, students need to attend school regularly and be ready to learn and be successful in social-emotional skills.

More good news is that chronic absenteeism decreased from 25.7% in 2022 to 21.8% in 2023.

Watson also celebrated other successes, such as districts that received recognition in the Kansans Can Star Recognition Program.

“I know that you get tired,” he said. “I know this journey can be difficult. I know this is hard work. Not only are you doing it, you are doing it honorably, you are doing it effectively, and you are doing it well.”

Drs. Proctor and Scott followed Watson’s presentation with information on school improvement and proposed changes to the accreditation model.

The 2023-2024 school year is a learning year for the Kansas Education Systems Accreditation (KESA) model, Scott said.

The first version of KESA focused on the 5 Rs - relationships, relevance, responsiveness culture and results.

The Kansas State Board of Education at its August meeting approved adjusting the current KESA cycle to allow systems to follow the KESA Learning Year timeline for the 2023-2024 school year. The Learning Year expectations for systems include gathering artifacts, meeting with a KSDE regional executive and meeting for peer reviews.

The proposed updated KESA model focuses on four fundamentals of standards alignment, balanced assessments, structured literacy and high-quality instruction. 

In the proposed new model, an ARC review would take place when a system is not making progress in the fundamentals, student results and/or in compliance areas. The ARC review would be for systems needing more intensive supports in those areas. 

The four fundamentals and the annual review process for accreditation will be submitted to the State Board as receive items in November. Board members also will receive a summary of feedback that KSDE staff members received from focus groups on school improvement and accreditation. 

Scott and Proctor discussed the four fundamentals that will serve as the basis for school improvement in Kansas:

  • Structured literacy: Ensuring the most effective literacy instruction.
  • Balanced assessment system: Using data to inform instruction.
  • Standards alignment: Aligning classroom instruction and resources to standards.
  • Quality instruction: Promoting quality instruction through high expectations.

From August 2023 through May 2024, systems will collect artifacts and evidence focused on the four fundamentals. Systems will have check-ins with KSDE from January to May 2024 and peer reviews in April and May 2024.

“School improvement is synonymous with accreditation in Kansas,” Scott said. “So, in KESA 2.0, the four fundamentals will serve as the basis for accreditation. We are adopting a ‘less is more’ concept by focusing on just a few high-leverage fundamental practices in accreditation to improve student outcomes. We are adopting a ‘more is more’ approach to feedback and support in KESA 2.0. Through an improved annual accreditation system, districts will have more opportunities to gain feedback and support through interactions with their peers, experts in the four fundamentals, and the KSDE. This approach is intended to help systems execute and sustain their improvement plans from year to year.”

Anyone with questions or feedback can email accreditation@ksde.org. Feedback will be shared with the Kansas State Board of Education as it moves toward acting on the proposed KESA 2.0 in December, Scott said.

Posted: Nov 2, 2023,
Comments: 0,
Author: Ann Bush
Tags: KESA

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