KSDE Weekly

Standards and Instruction

State Board approves KESA changes, 2024 legislative priorities

State Board approves KESA changes, 2024 legislative priorities

The Kansas State Board of Education at its December meeting approved changes to the Kansas Education Systems Accreditation (KESA) model that will be implemented in the 2024-2025 school year. 

The changes will better connect school improvement and accreditation and increase accountability and support, Kansas State Department of Education (KSDE) staff members said. 

Dr. Jay Scott, director of KSDE’s Accreditation and Design (AD) team, and Deputy Commissioner Dr. Ben Proctor first presented the changes to State Board members in November. 

The updated KESA model will ensure districts are accredited based on Four Fundamentals, State Board outcomes, student outcomes and compliance. The Four Fundamentals are: 

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


With the approval, the State Board asked that an updated, actionable model be developed and presented to the State Board for approval before July 2024. If this doesn’t happen, implementation of the changes will be delayed. 

2024 legislative priorities 

State Board members approved a list of legislative priorities for the 2024 Kansas legislative session. 

Dr. John Hess, director of KSDE’s Fiscal Services and Operations, led Board members through discussion of the priorities. 

The 2024 legislative priorities focus on academic support efforts; health and safety issues; funding issues; and education policy governance. 

The priorities for the 2024 legislative session are as follows:  

Academic support efforts 

  • The goal of moving toward providing the first 12 postsecondary credit hours tuition-free during high school. 
  • The concept of public-private partnerships with business and industry, etc., to allow for internships, mentoring, etc.  
  • The legislation, which requires that the State Board of Education, the Department of Children and Families (DCF) and the Kansas Legislature work together to monitor the success of the Foster Child Report Card. 
  • Reduced waiting time after retirement to return to teaching and reduce or eliminate the financial penalty. 


Health and safety issues 

  • Support for expanded funding for the Safe and Secure Schools grant to meet needs.   
  • The legislative recommendations of the School Bus Stop Arm Violation Committee. 
  • The efforts to reduce human trafficking in Kansas. 
  • The ongoing work and recommendations of the School Mental Health Advisory Council, including, but not limited to, bullying prevention; efforts for suicide prevention and awareness; and child abuse and neglect program. 


Funding issues 

  • The recommended funding levels approved by the Kansas Supreme Court and is appreciative of the Legislature’s efforts to date to meet that agreement.  
  • Public education funds being provided only to public schools. 
  • Following state statute and moving toward funding 92% of the excess cost of special education. 
  • Continued coordination and investment in career and technical education programs that are aligned to workforce needs. 
  • Opportunities to expand early childhood and kindergarten readiness.  
  • Funding transportation of students in all unsafe situations, regardless of mileage. 
  • Continued funding for the dyslexia coordinator position. 
  • Funding teachers in Language Essentials for Teachers of Reading and Spelling (LETRS) training program when Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) funding ends. 
  • Continued funding for the teacher apprenticeship program. 
  • Increased state support on bond and interest. 
  • Funding for early childhood education. 


Education policy governance 

  • The constitutional authority given to the State Board of Education, the Kansas Legislature and the governor. 
  • The governance responsibilities assigned to the Kansas State High School Activities Association (KSHSAA). 
  • The authority of local boards of education. 


ESSER change requests 

Board of Education members accepted recommendations from the Commissioner’s Task Force on ESSER and Emergency Assistance to Nonpublic Schools (EANS) Distribution of Money to approve ESSER III change requests for the use of federal COVID-19 relief funds. 

Doug Boline, assistant director of KSDE’s Special Education and Title Services (SETS) team, said there were 30 ESSER III change applications from districts, representing 50,205 students. The changes include 962 individual budgeted expenditures totaling $75.5 million. Out of $768.1 million allocated for ESSER III, $747.1 million (97.3%) has been approved for allocation, with $10.1 million remaining. 

Educator preparation program recommendations 

State Board of Education members received recommendations of the Evaluation Review Committee (ERC) regarding educator 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, discussed the ERC recommendations with State Board members. 

Each educator license and endorsement program must be peer-reviewed and approved by the State Board. The educator preparation program reviews take place on a seven-year cycle. All preparation programs offered by a college/university are reviewed as part of the provider’s Education Accreditation process.  

The Board is scheduled to vote on the recommendations at its January 2024 meeting. 

Higher Education Accredited List 

Shane Carter, KSDE’s director of Teacher Licensure, shared the Professional Standards Board’s recommendations for the Higher Education Accredited List. 

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 of Education members haven’t reviewed or approved the list in several years. The Professional Standards Board at its September 2023 meeting reviewed the list and made a recommendation to the State Board to approve the current list without changes. 

At-risk program updates 

Deputy Commissioner Proctor updated State Board members on the At-Risk program from both federal and state legislative funding perspectives. 

Currently, KSDE staff members are evaluating all programs and practices on the Evidence-Based Practices list to understand the research base of each item. This process and information will inform the agency on guidance and the use of at-risk funds for Kansas school districts and will help staff members understand the degree to which programs and practices meet state statute requirements regarding the use of at-risk funds. 

The KSDE evaluation is slated to be completed by the end of December. Agency staff members will then review the research and evidence found for each item and share recommendations with the State Board in January. The KSDE staff recommendations may inform potential recommendations to the Kansas Legislature. 

KSDE staff members will continuously update systems on the evidence-based program review process, as well as any State Board action and possible Kansas Legislature action related to at-risk expenditure criteria. 

District spotlight: Piper USD 203 

Dr. Jessica Dain, superintendent of Piper Unified School District 203, along with Dr. John Nguyen, assistant superintendent, and Polly Vader, coordinator of real-world learning and CTE, presented to the State Board about the district’s Individual Plan of Study (IPS) process and why they believe it has contributed to the success of the district and its students. 

Piper USD 203 received a gold star in the IPS category of the Kansans Can Star Recognition Program, which recognizes districts that are achieving at high levels in the outcome areas identified by the State Board of Education. 

The district uses the Kansas Work-Based Learning Continuum and strategic framework as guiding principles for IPS implementation. The district also starts at the elementary level to inspire students with interactive career awareness activities. That way, by the time students reach middle school, students’ passions are ignited and can be linked directly to careers of interest. 

At the high school level, students are immersed in their careers of interest, Piper staff members told State Board members. High school students’ experiences culminate in a year-long capstone course that allows them to showcase their work. 

Kansas Early Learning Standards 

The State Board members on Wednesday morning received updated Kansas Early Learning Standards (KELS), which guide early childhood providers and teachers on the developmental continuum of learning for children from birth through kindergarten. 

Amanda Petersen, director of KSDE’s Early Childhood team, and Natalie McClane, an education program consultant on the Early Childhood team, shared changes made to KELS after feedback from partners and from State Board members during their November meeting. 

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. 

A group of childhood experts began working on the revision of the Kansas Early Learning Standards in February 2022. This is the fourth revision of the standards, the last being in January 2014. 

The revision process was a collaborative effort with partners across the Kansas early childhood community. 

The State Board is scheduled to act on the updated KELS at a future meeting.  

History of special education funding 

Dr. John Hess, director of KSDE’s Fiscal Services and Operations, along with Dale Brungardt, director of KSDE’s school finance, Bert Moore, director of KSDE’s Special Education and Title Services, and Gabrielle Hull, a public service executive on KSDE’s School Finance team, gave State Board members a history and overview of special education funding. 

The State Board will meet next Jan. 9-10 at the Landon State Office Building, 900 S.W. Jackson, Suite 102, in Topeka. 

Posted: Dec 14, 2023,
Comments: 0,
Author: Ann Bush

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