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Accountability, Accreditation and Assessments

Kansas State Board of Education January highlights: State Board approves early learning standards; receives update on fentanyl, KESA 2.0

Kansas State Board of Education January highlights: State Board approves early learning standards; receives update on fentanyl, KESA 2.0

The Kansas State Board of Education at its first meeting of the year approved the Kansas Early Learning Standards (KELS), received an update on the Kansas Education Systems Accreditation Framework and learned how the fentanyl crisis is impacting Kansas. 

The State Board met Tuesday, Jan. 9, and Wednesday, Jan. 10, at the Landon State Office Building in Topeka. 

Kansas Early Learning Standards 

The State Board approved the Kansas Early Learning Standards. The standards guide early childhood providers and teachers on the developmental continuum of learning for children from birth through kindergarten.  

The early learning standards haven’t been updated since 2013, said Amanda Petersen, director of KSDE’s Early Childhood team. A group of childhood experts began working on the revision of KELS in February 2022. 

The revision process was a collaborative effort with partners across the Kansas early childhood community, Petersen said. There was also an opportunity for public feedback on the updated early childhood standards via Zoom. 

The document isn’t designed to serve as a curriculum in an early childhood program or other setting, Petersen said. It also isn’t designed to exclude children from a program, school or activity and shouldn’t serve as an assessment of children, families or programs.  

Petersen and Natalie McClane, an education program consultant on the Early Childhood team, first presented the updated KELS document to the State Board in November 2023. 

The Kansas Children’s Cabinet and Trust Fund will also have the opportunity to receive and approve the updated standards in February. KSDE is working together with other early childhood partners to plan dissemination and professional development for the updated standards. You can click here to view the updates approved by the State Board this week.  

KESA update 

Deputy Commissioner Dr. Ben Proctor gave State Board of Education members an update on the Kansas Education Systems Accreditation (KESA) framework, also known as KESA 2.0. 

The KSDE School Improvement Work Group has established priority projects and supporting projects for the KESA work, Proctor said. The group also established a steering committee and an oversight structure for the work. 

Priority projects include: 

  • Develop the School Improvement Model Structures and Lead Indicators. 
  • Design the templates needed for peer collaboration, gap analysis and action plans. 
  • Recruit and train facilitators for peer collaboration, gap analysis and action planning conversation. 
  • Design the protocol for the deep dive into student performance data. 
  • Integrate kindergarten readiness, social-emotional learning and Individual Plans of Study (IPS) into the school improvement model and conversation. 
  • Begin intentional collaboration with service centers and Technical Assistance Systems Network (TASN) partners. 

Supporting projects include: 

  • KansasStar, needs assessment alignment. 
  • Curriculum and materials audit. 
  • Standards alignment toolkit. 
  • Balanced assessment and data literacy. 
  • Professional development and mentoring plan alignment. 
  • STAR Recognition alignment. 
  • The Kansas vignettes. 
  • Civic engagement alignment. 

Proctor also asked the State Board to take several things into consideration about social-emotional learning measured locally, including: 

  • Do we have a common definition and understanding of social-emotional learning in Kansas? 
  • What are the interpersonal, intrapersonal and cognitive skills we wish to teach our students in Kansas? 
  • How do we teach those skills most effectively, and how do we know if students learn them? 

Common assessments grant 

The State Board learned about a subgrant that would allow Olathe Unified School District 233 to create standards-based benchmark assessments aligned to Kansas content standards in mathematics and English language arts (ELA). 

Work is being done in Olathe USD 233, Kansas City USD 500 and Blue Valley USD 229 to develop a multi-dimensional standards-based benchmark assessment system for math and ELA. This will include four benchmark assessments developed by the districts with support from Innovative Assessment Solutions. Olathe USD 233 would serve as the fiscal agent for the grant. 

The assessments will be delivered through the Kite system, which is a comprehensive platform used for assessment development, delivery and management. 

The funds, which won’t exceed $250,000, would be available from February 2024 through June 30, 2025. Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) funds dedicated to learning loss will be used. 

The State Board is slated to act at its February meeting. 

Fentanyl crisis 

Jenni Ebert, a Riley County Health coordinator, and Tony Mattivi, director of the Kansas Bureau of Investigation (KBI), led a discussion on the fentanyl crisis. 

There were more than 107,000 deaths nationwide in 2021 from drug poisoning and drug-related deaths, Ebert said. That number has increased since then. It was more than 110,000 in 2022 and more than 112,000 in 2023. 

Ebert also shared the story about her son, Jayson, who died in 2021 from fentanyl. 

Ebert discussed the Kansas Communities that Care survey. The survey includes responses from Kansas students in grades sixth, eighth, 10th and 12th. 

One of the questions asked students, “How much have you heard about fentanyl?” The answers were: 

  • I have heard about fentanyl, but I do not know what it is. 21% 
  • I have heard about fentanyl, and I know what it is. 40% 
  • I have not heard about fentanyl. 39% 

“That to me is alarming,” Ebert said. 

Seven out of 10 fentanyl-laced fake prescription pills contain a lethal dose of fentanyl, which according to the Drug Enforcement Administration is 2 milligrams. 

“It is everywhere,” Mattivi said. 

Fentanyl is being mixed in with every other illegal drug except heroin, he said. 

“It is the most profitable drug our society has ever seen,” Mattivi said. 

Fentanyl users don’t look like normal drug users, he added. 

“These are the faces of fentanyl,” he said, showing photographs of some who have died after using the drug, including the son of a KBI agent. “That’s why it is so incredibly important to educate.” 

Transition Table for School Districts 

Commissioner Watson discussed and demonstrated the Transition Table for School Districts, a new tool that will allow selected educators to see how students within their district perform on the state assessment from year to year. The tool allows individuals to disaggregate data looking at specific groups, and even individual students. The data helps facilitate a conversation around academic performance over time in a system. The tool will help systems better investigate areas of improvement and strength pertaining to academic performance.  

The information isn’t available to the public, Watson stressed. 

At-risk update 

Deputy Commissioner Proctor provided State Board of Education members with information about evidence-based practices with at-risk funds. 

All expenditures from a district’s at-risk fund must come from an approved list unless it is a provisional at-risk program, Proctor said. At-risk and provisional at-risk programs and services must provide eligible students with additional educational opportunities, interventions and evidence-based instructional services above and beyond regular education services. 

The State Board has responsibilities related to supporting the utilization of at-risk funds, such as identifying and approving evidence-based practices for at-risk programs for students who are eligible to receive at-risk services or those who face identifiable barriers to success.  

KSDE staff members are currently reviewing the list of at-risk programs to identify those that meet statutory requirements. Once it has been updated and approved by State Board members, it will be posted on the Kansas State Department of Education’s website. 

Proctor discussed the process KSDE staff members use to evaluate each item on the list and shared how the programs and practices meet the requirements of the current law related to at-risk expenditures. 

Higher education programs 

The State Board accepted the recommendations of the Evaluation Review Committee to approve the education preparation programs for Fort Hays State University, Friends University, Pittsburg State University and Wichita State University. 

Dr. Catherine Chmidling, assistant director of KSDE’s Accreditation and Design team, first presented the recommendations at the State Board’s December 2023 meeting. She was available at Tuesday’s meeting to answer questions. 

Elementary pre-K-6 teacher preparation standards 

State Board members received elementary Pre-K-6 teacher preparation standards. 

Educator preparation program standards establish program approval requirements to ensure that preparation programs in Kansas provide future educators with the knowledge and skills they will need. 

Education preparation providers use program standards to develop preparation programs and then submit those programs to KSDE and the State Board for review and approval. The standards also help to establish professional learning requirements for licensure renewal. 

A standards revision committee, which was made up of Pre-K-12 and higher education representatives, was developed with a focus on increasing attention to literacy and ensuring the elementary preparation standards encompass the full scope of the Pre-K-6 license. 

Dr. Sarah Broman Miller and Dr. Jean Dockers were designated the co-chairs of the standards revision committee. They, along with Chmidling, and KSDE’s Dr. Laurie Curits were available to answer questions. 

The main changes made from the 2017 standards include: 

  • An increased emphasis on pre-K. 
  • An increased emphasis on literacy. 
  • Updated language. 
  • A change in the number of standards. There were seven standards in 2017. The new proposed standards include eight. 
  • The 2017 standards had one English language arts (ELA) standard. The new standards split the ELA into three literacy standards. 
  • The 2017 standards had a standard for the arts (music, art, theater, etc.) and a standard for health and physical education. The new proposed standards combine the arts and PE standards into one comprehensive standard, which is now Standard 8. 

Draft standards were reviewed by the Professional Standards Board and were posted on the KSDE website for public comment. 

The proposed standards will be presented to the State Board as an action item in February. 

Higher Education Accredited List 

The State Board of Education approved the Professional Standards Board’s recommendations for the Higher Education Accredited List. 

Shane Carter, KSDE’s director of Teacher Licensure, shared the recommendations for the first time at the State Board’s December 2023 meeting. 

The State Board maintains a list of accrediting associations in which valid credits and degrees are accepted and recognized as required by licensure regulations. 

State Board members haven’t reviewed or approved the list in several years. 

In September 2023, the Professional Standards Board reviewed the list and made a recommendation to the State Board to approve the current list without changes. 

Both the old and new accrediting list approves semester credit hours and/or degrees earned through a college or university accredited by one of the following accrediting associations: 

  • New England Commission of Higher Education 
  • Middle States Commission of Higher Education 
  • The Higher Learning Commission (HLC) 
  • Northwest Association of Schools and Colleges 
  • Southern Association of Colleges and Schools  
  • Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges 
  • Western Association of Schools and Colleges Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges 
  • Association for Biblical Higher Education 

KSDE student apprentice 

State Board of Education members heard from Reylli Lopez, a 2023 Highland Park High School graduate who worked as a KSDE apprentice and is now a full-time employee at the agency and a Washburn University student. 

In the fall of 2021, KSDE partnered with Jobs for America’s Graduates (JAG) and the Kansas Department of Commerce to develop the first approved youth apprenticeship in the state. 

Topeka USD 501 partnered with KSDE and JAG in 2022 to become the first district to pilot the state-paid apprenticeship program. 

The apprenticeship program promotes college and career readiness. 

Lopez, who was a junior at HPHS at the time, had to apply for the apprenticeship and was selected to join KSDE’s Information Technology (IT) team. 

Under the guidance of Kathi Grossenbacher, KSDE’s IT director, and the IT team, Lopez received real-world, hands-on experience working in the IT sector while continuing his academic pursuits at HPHS. 

Lopez is in his second semester of pursuing a degree in Information Technology from Washburn University in Topeka and now works full-time for the KSDE IT team. 

Transferring territory between school districts 

Scott Gordon, general counsel for KSDE, talked to State Board members about their role in transferring territory between school districts. 

There are two methods to transfer territory, Gordon said. The two methods are: 

  • Upon written agreement of any two school boards. The agreement must address certain factors written in law, including district capacity, the condition and age of buildings and physical plant, the overall costs of renovating buildings versus construction, costs of busing and food services and more. This requires approval by the State Board of Education, and the State Board has to issue its order within 90 days of receiving the agreement. The State Board can approve it as written; approve it after amendment; or deny it. 
  • Unilateral petition filed by one school board. This requires the State Board to conduct a public hearing and then issue an order within 90 days of the public hearing. Again, the State Board can approve it as written; approve it after amendment; or deny it. If denied, no similar petition is allowed within two years. 

Consolidation can happen by agreement if it meets all agreement requirements. The State Board must approve it and a special election has to be conducted by an election official in the home county of the consolidated district. The State Board issues an order following a favorable election. 

There are four methods to disorganize a unified school district, Gordon told the State Board. These are: 

  • Petition by election. The election is called by a county election officer. If the majority of votes approve it, the State Board issues an order effective July 1 following the date of the petition. The State Board order attaches the school district territory to one or more appropriate school districts and specifies the disposition of any property owned by the former school district. 
  • School board petition to disorganize. If conditions are met, the State Board issues an order effective July 1 following the date of the petition. The State Board attaches the school district territory to one or more appropriate school districts and specifies the disposition of any property owned by the former school district. 
  • A school board petition to disorganize and attach to a single district. This includes a request to attach a school district territory to one specific school district. A school board initiates an election conducted by a county election officer. If the “yes” vote wins, the election officer informs both parties. The receiving district has 30 days to either approve or disapprove the suggested attachment. If the receiving district approves it, the State Board issues the order. 
  • School board petition to disorganize and attach to multiple districts. This includes a request to attach school district territory to two or more specific school districts. The request must first receive State Board approval. A school board initiates an election conducted by a county election officer. If the “yes” vote wins, the election officer informs both parties. The receiving districts have 30 days to unanimously approve the suggested attachment. If the receiving districts approve, the State Board issues the order. 

Legislative update 

Dr. John Hess, director of KSDE’s Fiscal Services and Operations, reviewed the Friday, Jan. 5, Special Education and Related Services Task Force meeting.  

The task force was convened to study the existing funding formula for special education and develop recommendations for the Kansas Legislature. 

Two main recommendations came out of the meeting, Hess said. One of those was that the Special Education and Related Services Funding Task Force continue to meet over the next several years to delve further into the funding of special education and related services. 

Another significant recommendation that came out of the meeting was the adoption of the State Board’s four-year plan to increase special education funding so the state reaches 92% of excess costs, Hess said after the meeting. 

Hess also shared a preview of the 2024 legislative session. 

Harwood named Deputy Commissioner 

The State Board approved hiring Dr.? Frank Harwood, a former teacher, principal and superintendent with 30 years of public education experience, as the new Deputy Commissioner of Fiscal and Administrative Services at KSDE. He will assume his new role on Friday, Jan. 12. 

Harwood is taking the helm of KSDE’s Fiscal and Administrative division after the Dec. 8, 2023, retirement of Dr. Craig Neuenswander. 

The Kansas State Board of Education approved Harwood for the position during an executive session on Tuesday, Jan. 9. 

Career and Technical Student Organizations 

Students representing Kansas Career and Technical Student Organizations (CTSOs) from across Kansas presented to State Board members on Wednesday. 

Because of weather and school closings, some students weren’t able to attend the meeting. 

CTSOs that were included but didn’t have students in attendance because of weather-related closings were Business Professionals of America (BPA); DECA; Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA); FFA; and HOSA – Future Health Professionals.  

Ava Gustin, a junior at Mission Valley High School, Mission Valley USD 330, and FCCLA’s 2023-2024 Kansas president, talked to State Board members about the importance of FCCLA. 

Her older sisters were in FCCLA when they were in high school, and Gustin joined the organization her freshman year. 

“It gave me more of an identity in high school,” she said. 

Grace Ruark, a junior at Labette County High School, Labette County USD 506, and president of SkillsUSA Kansas, shared how SkillsUSA has impacted her life. 

“Skills USA has become a family I never had,” she said. “It’s given me a bigger personality than I ever dreamed.” 

Jayce Quirin, a senior at Parsons High School, Parsons USD 503, is president of the Kansas Technology Student Association (TSA) and shared his story with State Board members. 

“I think this experience the last four years has been really good for me,” Quirin said about his presentation to the State Board and the CTSO Citizenship Day. 

State Board members had lunch and visited more with CTSOs representatives at the Bishop Professional Development Center, Topeka USD 501. 

The State Board will meet next on Feb. 13-14 in the Board Room at the Landon State Office Building, 900 S.W. Jackson, Suite 102, in Topeka. 

Posted: Jan 11, 2024,
Comments: 0,
Author: Ann Bush

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