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Kansas State Board of Education January highlights: Board approves emergency declaration

The Kansas State Board of Education on Wednesday, Jan. 12, unanimously approved an emergency declaration that allows any individual meeting certain qualifications to apply for a Temporary Emergency Authorized License (TEAL).

This action will help solve the substitute teacher shortage caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Any TEAL obtained through the emergency declaration will expire June 1, 2022. After that date, individuals will have to meet the more rigorous requirements for a substitute teacher license.

Usually there is a minimum requirement of 60 semester credit hours from a regionally accredited college or university in order to obtain an emergency substitute license. The emergency declaration removes this minimum requirement for the TEAL. However, candidates must:

  • Meet the minimum age requirement of 18.
  • Have a high school diploma. Individuals with a general educational development (GED) diploma/certificate aren’t eligible.
  • Have a verified employment commitment from a district or system.
  • Be fingerprinted and pass a background check.
  • Submit a completed application to KSDE.

Because a verified employment commitment from a district or system is required, interested applicants should reach out to their local school district or private school to complete an application.

Kansas Commissioner of Education Dr. Randy Watson gave board members an update on the 2021 Kansans Can Success Tour, which took place in July-September. The 50-location tour data was recently released. Three researchers compiled the data: R12 Comprehensive Center – McRel; Kansas State University; and Kansas State Department of Education. The three looked at the data independently, but Watson shared the joint data.

There were 3,455 respondents, which is nearly a 50% increase over the 2015 Kansas Children Kansas’ Future Tour.

Across the state, Kansans overwhelming agreed that we are prioritizing the right skills and strategies to produce successful high school students and adults, according to the data.

There also was a consensus of five overarching themes. Those themes were:

  • Community relations and engagement.
  • Leadership and policy.
  • Enhance student learning and success.
  • Systemwide needs.
  • Educator-centered supports.

Under community relations and engagement, people asked for improved communication with families and community members in order to increase engagement and support from community groups, including higher education, professional organizations, business leaders and families. Participants also asked to build partnerships within the community to advance real-world experiences for students and allow collaboration within and among school districts.

Under educator-centered supports, participants asked for enhanced teacher preparation programs and increased time for teachers to instruct, implement changes and connect with families. They also asked that high-quality staff members be hired and retained to allow for autonomy in the classroom and that relevant professional development opportunities continue to be offered.

Under the theme of systemwide needs, participants asked that funding be increased to enhance programs, differentiate instruction, increase salaries and hire qualified staff to reduce class size. They also asked that access be provided to social workers and counselors to help meet the social-emotional needs of staff members and students.

Under leadership and policy, participants mentioned the need for stable leadership that provides clear guidance, supports the decisions of teachers and allows for flexibility in instruction, assessment and requirements. Policies and changes to requirements (e.g., graduation, accreditation, licensure) that enable districts to create a manageable change system also were mentioned.

Under enhanced student learning and success, participants mentioned opportunities for more real-world experiences, internships, mentorships and personalized learning. Also mentioned were support and guidance for educators in implementing changes by diversifying measures of student learning and deemphasizing traditional testing.

While researchers identified some unique needs shared, overall, Kansans reported clear and consistent needs for supporting schools regardless of geographic location, board region and district size.

Kathi Grossenbacher, Information Technology (IT) director for the Kansas State Department of Education (KSDE), provided an overview of a Legislative Post Audit limited-scope cybersecurity audit. She also discussed the collaboration between KSDE and school districts to address security issues.

The objective of the audit was to answer the following question: What do school districts report regarding IT security standards and resources?

A survey was sent to all 286 public accredited districts and the Kansas School for the Deaf and the Kansas State School for the Blind. There were 147 districts that responded, which is a response rate of 51%, Grossenbacher said.

Survey results showed that many school districts haven’t implemented basic IT security controls. Fifty-eight percent of respondents don’t require security awareness training, and 63% don’t annually assess IT security risks, the survey results showed.

Districts reported that staff-related issues, such as the inability to hire sufficient IT staff members and the inability to offer a competitive wage, are significant barriers.

The Legislative Division of Post Audit recommended that the Kansas Legislature consider directing KSDE to establish a set of minimum IT security standards for school districts in the form of either guidance or requirements.

KSDE began collaborating with districts and developed the publication, “Cybersecurity Guidance and Recommendations for Kansas School Districts.” A K-12 Technology Council is being formed and will be chaired by IT directors who can help provide professional development to all district technology staff members.

KSDE also has developed a security policy template and an example of an acceptable use template. The agency also is developing IT security and data privacy training that will be available to Kansas districts and is in the process of creating a KSDE K-12 Technology webpage, Grossenbacher said.

Rob Dickson, chief information officer for Wichita Unified School District 259; Dennis Elledge, director of technology for Derby USD 260; Drew Lane, executive director of ICT for Shawnee Mission USD 512; Phil Elliott, director of technology, Spring Hill USD 320; and David Vignery, director of technology for Lawrence USD 497, attended the board meeting, discussed the collaboration between KSDE and districts and were available to answer questions.

Lane said cybersecurity is “of grave importance” for districts.

Beth Fultz, assistant director of Career, Standards and Assessment Services (CSAS), introduced Dr. Keith Mispagel, superintendent of Fort Leavenworth USD 207, which is the only silver star recipient in the Kansans Can Star Recognition Program’s category of academically prepared for postsecondary for 2021.

Mispagel introduced retired Col. Mike Griswold, president of the Fort Leavenworth USD 207 Board of Education; Tammy Irminger, a fourth-grade teacher; Staci Blount, a ninth-grade teacher; and Dr. SuAnn Grant, deputy superintendent. Sen. Jeff Pittman, Senate District 5, which includes Leavenworth, also attended the presentation.

Fort Leavenworth USD 207’s vision is to create lifelong learners and future leaders with 21st century skills, Griswold said. Its mission is to achieve the highest level of learning for all through the tenacious pursuit of excellence.

Mispagel told the State Board that the district focuses efforts to support children’s mental health and also places a large focus on each child’s progress/prior experience and readiness for the next grade level.

Fort Leavenworth USD 207 staff members noticed data trends in student achievement slipping in a downward trend, so they created the “4-Dots,” which focuses on accreditation, ELA, math and social-emotional.

Doug Boline and Tate Toedman, who are both assistant directors of KSDE’s Special Education and Title Services (SETS) team, provided State Board members a status update on Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) III federal COVID-19 funds.

Fifty-seven districts have submitted ESSER III plans, Boline said. Twelve KSDE and Kansas Technical Assistance System Network (TASN) staff members are conducting the primary reviews. Eleven plans are ready for secondary review, Boline added.

The SETS team members are conducting virtual office meeting times to provide targeted technical assistance to help districts create approvable plans, Boline said. A new authenticated application for ESSER applications is in a final testing mode. The automated system will work with the other KSDE applications that districts are familiar with and should smooth out the application process.

Cheryl Johnson, director of KSDE’s Child Nutrition and Wellness team, shared information with the State Board about Kansas being named one of eight states selected to participate in the expansion of a demonstration project to evaluate the impact of using Medicaid eligibility data to directly certify students for free and reduced-price school meals.

The newest round of this demonstration creates an important opportunity to further test the impact of Medicaid Direct Certification, which was first initiated through the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010.

Seven other states were also selected to participate in this round of the project: Alabama, Illinois, Louisiana, Maryland, Minnesota, North Carolina and South Carolina.

The direct certification process makes it easier for children from low-income households to receive free and reduced-price school meals, according to the USDA. Historically, most students who receive free or reduced-price school meals have been certified based on information they submit in an application.

Johnson also presented certificates to those who earned them through the Kansas Certificate in Child Nutrition Management. This program sponsored is by CNW and approved by the State Board. To receive a certificate, 120 hours of management classes approved by KSDE’s CNW team must be completed, Johnson said.

Child nutrition professionals who completed requirements in 2021 and were awarded certificates are:

  • Jennifer Zule, Lansing USD 469.
  • Sheree Jones, Haven USD 312.
  • Anna Baum, Southern Lyon County USD 252.
  • Belinda Corle, Elk Valley USD 283.
  • Nichole Burnett, Baldwin USD 348.
  • Jill Monroe, Southeast Kansas Community Action Program Head Start.
  • Pamela Lane, Coffeyville USD 445, posthumously.

Only five certificates have been awarded previously, so these individuals are to be commended for their initiative to achieve a certificate, Johnson said.

Deputy Commissioner Dr. Craig Neuenswander gave updates on legislative matters.

The State Board approved a proposal to appropriate $100,000 per year from federal ESSER set-aside funds to support Communities in Schools in fiscal years 2022, 2023 and 2024.

In December 2021, State Board members were asked to consider directing federal ESSER set-aside monies to support CIS. CIS provided additional information to KSDE staff members about its focus on reengagement of students in an effort to address learning loss caused by the pandemic.

On Wednesday, Jan. 12, State Board members heard from Career and Technical Student Organizations (CTSO) state leaders. Leaders were in Topeka for CTSO Citizenship Day.

State officers who presented were:

  • Lincoln Bartelt, a senior at Shawnee Mission Northwest High School, Shawnee Mission USD 512, president of Kansas Business Professionals of America (BPA).
  • Bousso Drame, a junior at Olathe North High School, Olathe USD 233, president of Kansas DECA.
  • Izabelle Youngers, senior at Kingman High School, Kingman-Norwich USD 331, president of Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA).
  • Rene Cabrera, a junior at Seaman High School, Seaman USD 345, president of Kansas Family, Career and Community Leaders of America (FBLA).
  • Josey Schmidt, a graduate of Greeley County High School, Greeley County USD 200, and a student at Hutchinson Community College, state sentinel for Kansas FFA.
  • Joy Lee, a senior at Pittsburg High School, Pittsburg USD 250, president of Kansas HOSA-Future Health Professionals.
  • Lathe Smith, a senior at Labette County High School, Labette County USD 506, president of SkillsUSA Kansas.
  • Abbey Otten, a senior at Basehor-Linwood High School, Basehor-Linwood USD 458, president of Kansas Technology Student Association (TSA).

Jennifer King, chair of the Special Education Advisory Council (SEAC), and Trisha Backman, SEAC chair elect, presented SEAC’s annual report.

SEAC’s mission is to work collaboratively to provide leadership for continuous improvement of educational systems to ensure equity and enhance learning for all students in Kansas.

The State Board will be next on Feb. 8-9 in Topeka.


Posted: Jan 18, 2022,
Comments: 0,
Author: Ann Bush

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