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Kansas State Board of Education members approve amendments to state regulations governing graduation requirements with caveat during May business meeting

Members of the Kansas State Board of Education approved amendments to state regulations, K.A.R. 91-31-35, governing minimum graduation requirements during their May business meeting. The new minimum requirements will go into effect this fall for the graduating class of 2028. However, the board agreed to hold the graduation requirement regarding completion of the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA, application, and revisit it during their June meeting.

Click here for a full-length story on the minimum graduation requirements.

During the meeting, board members also approved two changes to the established list of postsecondary assets high school students can choose from to meet their graduation requirements. These included increasing the attendance rate from 90% to 95% and the addition of serving as an officer for a career and technical student organization, or CTSO.

State board members approved a plan to use $23.5 million in remaining federal ESSER III funds for the time period of September 1, 2024, to July 1, 2026. The bulk of the spending, $10 million, will go toward training for statewide literacy and math, particularly professional development in the science of reading and pre-K through Algebra II math content. Another $5 million will be spent on training educators with high quality instructional materials (HQIM) and staff around school improvement and state standards alignment. An estimated $3.2 million will also go toward the development of alternate classroom assessments and professional development and $1.8 million for the two-year contract extension of the FastBridge assessment tool.

After board members heard an update on literacy licensure requirements for teachers, they voted to approve the use of a new elementary literacy licensure exam for those who aren’t yet certified (preservice). They also approved the cut, or passing, scores for those tests.

Several board members discussed the need to clarify information regarding teachers paying for the literacy exams. Kansas Education Commissioner Randy Watson said the one-time cost of the test for veteran teachers (who are currently serving in a school district who feel they have received training on the science of reading and do not need additional professional development) will come out of federal ESSER monies. However, if someone does not pass the exam, he or she would be required to pay out of pocket if he or she wants to take the exam again. Tests will not be paid for pre-service candidates.

KSDE Deputy Commissioner Dr. Ben Proctor updated board members on the progress of the Kansas Education Systems Accreditation, or KESA, 2.0, the school improvement and accreditation model, which board members are expected to take final action on this summer. Commissioner Watson emphasized KESA 2.0 will allow for an annual evaluation for system accreditation whereas the previous KESA system was on a five-year cycle of accreditation. Dr. Jay Scott, KSDE director of accreditation and design, added that KESA 2.0 will be a “heavy-support model” with a rubric for every compliance area.

Another component of KESA 2.0, Proctor and Scott told board members, is districts will be declared accredited, accredited “with conditions” or not accredited. Districts will no longer be “conditionally accredited.” Districts accredited with conditions or not accredited will receive support and an array of resources from KSDE that will get them to fully accredited status. Scott said KSDE will work with nonpublic schools and their governing bodies through collaboration and action plans if they don’t meet the accreditation requirements.   

Board members also approved the transfer of land from Prairie Hills USD 113 to Vermillion USD 380 and from Prairie Hills USD 113 to Jackson Heights USD 335. Board members will meet during a special meeting via Zoom on Friday, May 24, to take up the motion made during public comments on May 14 to hear oral arguments regarding a land transfer petition filed by Nemaha Central USD 115.

 Other items board members heard during their May meeting include:

  • An update on the work of the School Mental Health Committee, including the transfer of the Mental Health Intervention Team, or MHIT, from KSDE to the Kansas Department of Aging and Disability Services (KDADS) on July 1;
  • A presentation from the Fort Hays State University College of Education on their educator recruitment and retention efforts, particularly the Certified Rural Enhanced STEM Teachers, or CREST, scholarship program to recruit math and science teachers to high-needs schools;
  • An introduction to U.S. Senate Youth delegates Madisen Finch, a student at Leavenworth High School, Leavenworth USD 453, and Tucker Leck, a student at Neodesha High School, Neodesha USD 461; and
  • A presentation from Payton Lynn, a May 2024 graduate of Kansas State University who served as a KSDE policy intern this past spring on the accreditation and design team.  
Posted: May 16, 2024,
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