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Kansas State Board of Education October highlights: Commissioner of Education gives annual report

The Kansas State Board of Education received annual reports from schools, an organization and Kansas Commissioner of Education Dr. Randy Watson during their monthly meeting on Tuesday, Oct. 12, and Wednesday, Oct. 13.

While Watson said there were things to celebrate, there also are areas where focus is needed. The graduation rate in the all students category has increased 2.6% since 2015, he said. It also has increased 6.5% in English language learners; 3.7% in free and reduced-lunch; and 3.1% in students with disabilities.

Postsecondary effectiveness increased 4% in four years, and the number of Kansas students ages 17-19 having to take remedial college courses at community colleges and universities has decreased.

Although that information is worth celebrating, the movement isn’t fast enough, Watson said.

“Every datapoint we have is down,” Watson said about ACT and student assessment data. “So is everyone else’s across the country.”

ACT research (COVID-19 data impact) shows a decline more severe than any other observed in its history of school-day testing. The impact was most severe for younger students.

Watson shared a chart showing the impact the COVID-19 pandemic had on student success. In 2019, enrollment was at 491,764 compared to 476,435 in 2021. Attendance decreased from 94.5% in 2019 to 93.81% in 2021, and chronic absenteeism increased from 13.93% in 2019 to 17.54% in 2021. Truancy increased from 767 in 2019 to 2,239 in 2021. Parent refusal to take state assessments increased from 854 in 2019 to 1,964.

Bill Faflick, executive director of the Kansas State High School Activities Association (KSHSAA), presented the organization’s annual report of operation to the Kansas State Board of Education.

Faflick introduced Annie Diederich as the new assistant executive director of KSHSAA. Diederich replaced Cheryl Gleason, who retired from KSHSAA after 32 years as service. Diederich joined KSHSAA after serving as an education program consultant on the Teacher Licensure and Accreditation team for the Kansas State Department of Education (KSDE).

Faflick said while they have plans in place for remote programs because of COVID-19, KSHSAA hopes they don’t have to use them this year.

He also discussed KSHSAA Covered, a program that tells the stories of students through professional journalists; a partnership with Special Olympics to develop Unified Bowling; a public/private classification component; de-escalation training; and mental health resources.

The State Board accepted the recommendations of the Commissioner’s Task Force on Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) and Emergency Assistance for Nonpublic Schools (EANS) Distribution of Money and approved the submission of public school district expenditure plans for ESSER II federal COVID-19 relief funds as presented.

State Board members also accepted the recommendations of the Commissioner’s Task Force on ESSER and EANS Distribution of Money and approved the submission of private school expenditure plans for EANS II federal COVID-19 relief funds as presented.

Doug Boline and Tate Toedman, assistant directors of Special Education and Title Services for KSDE, spoke to State Board members about ESSER and EANS expenditure plans and answered questions.

There have been 243 out of 286, or 85%, ESSER II plans submitted, with seven additional ESSER II plans currently in progress, Boline said. The State Board has approved 225 ESSER II plans. On Tuesday, Oct. 12, board members were asked to approve 18 ESSER II Plans and 12 ESSER II change requests. The 18 applications represent 19,695 students and have 302 individual budgeted expenditures totaling a value of $14 million with two recommended as ineligible by KSDE, Boline said.

Twelve districts submitted change requests representing 66,569 students. There were 407 change requests for individual budgeted expenditures totaling a value of $63 million, according to Boline.

Toedman discussed emergency funding for nonpublic schools (EANS). The application window for EANS closed at 3:30 p.m. Sept. 27. There were 26 applications received – 1,304 individual requests totaling $15,723,031, Toedman said. The majority of requests were deemed eligible by KSDE – 81% (an estimated $12.7 million value) were deemed eligible, with 19% of the requests (an estimated $3 million value) deemed ineligible.

Staff members from Perry-Lecompton Unified School District 343 and Goddard USD 265 presented about kindergarten readiness initiatives in their districts. Both districts received recognition in the area of kindergarten readiness in Kansans Can Star Recognition program.

Perry-Lecompton USD 343 serves 785 students, including the district’s early childhood program. There are four school buildings – Perry-Lecompton High School, Perry-Lecompton Middle School (grades 5-8), Lecompton Elementary School (grades 1-4) and Perry Elementary School (childcare through kindergarten).

The pre-K program is a full-time, year-round Kansas Department of Health and Environment approved child care center. The center is open from 6:45 a.m. to 6 p.m. and serves students from 18 months to 4 years of age. The program accepts Kansas Department for Children and Families payments for child care for those who qualify.

Perry-Lecompton decided to offer the pre-K program because of declining enrollment in the district and finding child care in the community was a challenge. The district also wanted to utilize open classroom space, and there was concern about students being ready for kindergarten.

Trisha Moritz, early childhood facilitator for Goddard USD 265, and Connor Christensen, a third-grade teacher at Apollo Elementary School, Goddard USD 265, discussed kindergarten readiness and co-teaching in an early childhood classroom in their district.

Co-teaching allows for more intense and individualized instruction in the general education setting, increasing access to the general education curriculum while decreasing stigma for students with special needs, Moritz said. Students have an opportunity to increase their understanding and respect for students with special needs.

The district has two inclusive classrooms with a general education lead teacher and a general education paraeducator. There is one special education teacher who co-teaches in both classrooms and three special education paraeducators (one in each classroom and one moving opposite of the special education teacher).

Christensen talked about KinderPrep within the district. The program helps increase kindergarten readiness and helps students with social-emotional skills, fine motor skills, routines and procedures.

The program takes place during the summer from 9 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. and has a schedule similar to kindergarten, Christensen said. KinderPrep started three summers ago and has served about 160 students.

Dr. Mischel Miller, director of KSDE’s Teacher Licensure and Accreditation (TLA) team, gave board members an update from the Teacher Vacancy and Supply Committee and highlights of the annual Licensed Personnel Report (LPR).

While viewing the data, Miller said there are a few things to keep in mind:

  1. COVID-19 continues to affect school district policies. Districts continue to deal with shifting staff needs because of the pandemic, including the need to staff positions with substitutes and in finding sufficient daily substitutes.
  2. Districts may not have been able to report all positions staffed with a substitute as a vacancy for a variety of reasons.
  3. Vacancy data for this school year may need to be viewed based on the challenge of the past two school years.

The top five vacancies in 2021 are special education, elementary, English language arts, mathematics and science. There were a total of 1,253 vacancies in the fall of 2021, and there were 771 in the fall of 2020.

The top reasons for vacancies in the fall of 2021 included:

  1. No applicant. (482)
  2. Not fully qualified based on endorsement area. (594)
  3. Preferred nonqualified over fully qualified. (39)
  4. Budget. (12)
  5. Qualified applicant refused offer. (16)
  6. Personnel. (45)
  7. Not fully qualified based on professional attributes. (62)
  8. COVID-19. (3)

There were 915 educator retirements in 2020-2021. There were 785 in 2019-2020, and 779 in 2018-2019. There were 505 educators who left the profession in 2020-2021 and 2019-2020, compared to 510 in 2018-2019.

The average age of teachers is 42.9. The average salary for a first-year teacher is $40,507, and the average salary for a teacher is $60,111.

The retention rate for teachers in their third year of teaching increased to 92.30% compared to 91.45% in 2020 and 90.73% in 2019.

There were 23,537 licenses issued during the 2020-2021 school year, Miller said.

State Board members accepted the recommendation of the Accreditation Review Council (ARC) and awarded the status of accredited through the Kansas Education Systems Accreditation (KESA) model to Atchison USD 409, Bishop Miege High, St. Ann Elementary and Holy Cross Catholic (all of the Kansas City Archdiocese) and conditionally accredited to Marais Des Cygnes.

During the 2020-2021 school year, 39 systems (25 public and 14 private) were selected to receive an accreditation status recommendation. These 39 systems entered KESA as year two systems. These systems were given the opportunity to voluntarily pause their KESA process this past school year as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, they chose to continue and move forward with their accreditation visit.

ARC met in April, June, July and September to review all systems. As of this date, the State Board has been presented with 34 of the 39 systems for an accreditation status recommendation.

At this month’s meeting, the board was presented with two additional systems for recommendations. The ARC recommends that St. John Catholic Elementary School be accredited and Anoor Islamic by conditionally accredited. State Board members are scheduled to act on the recommendations in November.

The last remaining three systems will be presented to the State Board for review in November and action in December, Miller said.

Deputy Commissioner Dr. Brad Neuenswander gave a presentation on the KESA Regional School Improvement Model. He said KSDE is improving the KESA process and its supports for KESA. It also is aligning continuous improvement processes across entities and aligning language across entities.

There will be six regional locations where districts can send teams to learn about the revised/updated KESA School Improvement Model, Neuenswander said. A pilot began in the 2021-2022 school year with a selection of districts.

KSDE is partnering with educational service centers, United School Administrators of Kansas (USA-Kansas), the Kansas Association of School Boards (KASB), the Kansas Educational Leadership Institute (KELI) and the Technical Assistance Systems Network (TASN). Together, these educational organizations have been working to prepare the regional KESA school improvement model for implementation in the 2022-23 school year.

By aligning processes across a broader spectrum, the goal is to take professional development around school improvement out to districts to give them the customized support they need to accomplish the State Board outcomes.

The regional pilot locations and the districts that are participating are:

  • Southwest Plains Regional Service Center: Cimarron-Ensign USD 102; Dodge City USD 443; and Holcomb USD 363.
  • Orion Education and Training: Caldwell USD 360; South Haven USD 509; and Oxford USD 358.
  • Greenbush North: Emporia USD 253; Eudora USD 491; Olathe USD 233; Prairie Hills USD 113; and Shawnee Heights USD 450.

KSDE's intention is that this will offer a simplified, streamlined and meaningful process with condensed reporting requirements that are more artifact and less narrative and not duplicative for the Outside Visitation Team (OVT) and ARC, Neuenswander said. He also said it will offer clarification around data points and the connection to Star rubrics, State Board outcomes and the vision.

State Board members received higher education preparation program standards for deaf/hard of hearing, birth through grade 3, pre-K-12.

The standards writing committee was comprised of school district and coop teachers, administrators and teachers from Kansas School for the Deaf and higher education faculty. Committee co-chairs were Joan Macy, Kansas School for the Deaf, and Sally Roberts, retired from the University of Kansas.

Educator preparation program standards establish program approval requirements to ensure that preparation programs in Kansas provide educator candidates with the opportunity to learn the knowledge and skills educators need for today’s learning context. Institutions of higher education utilize program standards to develop their preparation programs and submit them for approval and for continuous monitoring and improvement of their programs. The standards also help to establish professional learning requirements for licensure renewal.

KSDE’s Dr. Catherine Chmidling and committee members explained the process and answered questions. Approval of the standards is slated for the November board meeting.

Luanne Barron, superintendent of the Kansas School for the Deaf, and Jon Harding, superintendent of the Kansas State School for the Blind, gave updates on their schools.

Barron said the Kansas Department of Health and Environment and the Johnson County Department of Health and Environment have worked closely with the School for the Deaf to help students and staff members feel safe in school. The agencies also have provided resources for COVID-19 testing and vaccinations, she said.

There have been some challenges with COVID-19, according to Barron, including learning recovery, sport cancellations, staff coverage and safety and staff recruitment and retention.

Kristin Brighton, owner of New Boston Creative Group, gave a presentation of HirePaths, an educational resource for parents to help explore options their child can pursue after high school to quickly and affordably launch a well-paying, in-demand job.

HirePaths was launched in February 2021 with a primary target audience of parents of children age 18 and younger.

Chairman Jim Porter announced that the State Board and the Kansas Board of Regents (KBOR) will meet Dec. 9 to identify an action plan for moving forward on areas of collaboration that were discussed at the August meeting.

State Board members were joined by legislators to discuss State Board legislative positions for the next legislative session. Legislators attending included:

  • Rep. Steve Huebert, House Education chair.
  • Rep. Jerry Stogsdill, Ranking Minority member.
  • Rep. Kristey Williams, K-12 Education Budget chair.
  • Rep. Valdenia Winn, Ranking Minority member.
  • Sen. Molly Baumgardner, Senate Education chair.
  • Sen. Dinah Sykes, Ranking Minority member.

Discussion on legislative positions will continue.

The next State Board of Education meeting will take place Nov. 9-10 in Topeka.

Posted: Oct 15, 2021,
Comments: 0,
Author: Ann Bush

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