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Literacy licensure requirements approved by the Kansas State Board of Education this week

Literacy licensure requirements approved by the Kansas State Board of Education this week

Some educators in Kansas will have until 2028 to become trained or pass a test to show they are complying with the science of reading structured literacy requirements to renew their license. Members of the Kansas State Board of Education voted to approve the licensure renewal requirement this week during their June meeting in Topeka.  

Elementary school educators who currently teach in the general content areas of language arts, history, government and social studies will be required to complete either the test or training by July 1, 2028. Initial recommended training options will be LETRS®, Pathways to Proficient Reading and Keys to Literacy. The literacy licensure requirement will also be mandatory for special education teachers, school psychologists and elementary school administrators who provide services to elementary school students. 

Instead of completing an approved training, a current teacher can take a test reviewed and recommended by the KSDE Professional Standards Board that measures the educator’s science of reading and structured literacy knowledge. The recommended test is still under review.  

Kansas Education Commissioner Randy Watson said the one-time cost of the test for veteran teachers (those who feel they have received training on the science of reading and do not need additional professional development) will be paid for with federal ESSER monies. However, he said, if someone does not pass the exam, he or she would be required to pay for the test if they want to take it again.  

A new elementary content test was approved in May by the state board. The test will be available for individuals obtaining a teaching license for the first time (pre-service) as of Sept. 1, 2024. The cost of the test will not be paid for pre-service candidates by KSDE. 

In other business, board members unanimously approved a “local contribution model” KSDE will use to distribute $73 million of additional special education funding to districts for the 2024-25 school year.  

Board members heard a proposal from Frank Harwood, KSDE deputy commissioner of fiscal and administrative services, for the creation of the formula to disperse $73 million of the new state aid for special education, a requirement of SB 387 signed into law in May. The recommended funding model distributes new funds based on the local district’s local effort to pay for their SPED services.  

The model starts with the total amount of money a district has spent on special education, then subtracts the revenue the district receives in state, federal and Medicaid reimbursement SPED money. The total then is considered the district’s local contribution. 

“That was the most equitable (method) that we came up with to do it,” Harwood told board members, adding they should “prioritize equity” in how the formula distributes the SPED money.  

Another $2.5 million in American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) will be distributed to the districts for SPED services using the current categorial aid formula. 

Harwood said KSDE will make a special payment for SPED funds in February and will explain to districts how they can account for this separately in their budgets. He said it was important to get the new SPED funding formula approved now since superintendents, business directors and others are attending the Kansas State Department of Education’s summer budget workshops that begin this week and need to know what the formula will be.  

Harwood also presented budget options to present to the Kansas Legislature for Fiscal Year 2026 (2025-26 school year). The recommended budget includes an estimated 4.5% increase in the base state aid per pupil funding from $5,378 for the 2024-25 school year to $5,618 for the 2025-26 school year. 

Board members are expected to vote on the FY2026 base state aid and other legislative budget recommendations during their July meeting. 

In other business, board members heard oral arguments from attorneys representing Nemaha Central USD 115 and Prairie Hills USD 113 regarding USD 115’s petition to have land transferred to the district from existing land in USD 113. 

The petition was filed with KSDE after the districts’ failed attempt to mediate USD 115’s claim. 

Board members voted to deny Nemaha Central’s petition.  

During this week’s business meeting, board members:  

  • Were presented with options to remove an amendment to the state regulation regarding high school graduation requirements as it pertains to the completion of the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) application. During the May meeting, board members requested to revisit this requirement and are expected to take a final vote in July on whether the FAFSA requirement language will stay in the current high school graduation regulation. 
  • Heard an update from officials in the KSDE Division of Learning Services regarding the execution of KESA 2.0, the second iteration of the Kansas Education Systems Accreditation. Board members are expected to take a final vote during their July meeting to begin the implementation of KESA 2.0 during the 2024-25 school year that is part of the overall school improvement model that will be administered by KSDE.  
  • Approved $131 million in federal ESSER funding change requests that will be used for salaries, professional development, equipment, and various projects and initiatives in 46 districts. 
  • Heard a recap of the 2024 Kansas Teacher of the Year team on lessons learned and activities they participated in during the 2023-24 school year. Click here for the full story.   
Posted: Jun 13, 2024,
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