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Kansas State Board of Education September highlights: Board approves KSHSAA amendment; issue heads to Kansas Legislature

Board also hears benefits of Sunflower Summer Program

The Kansas State Board of Education during its September meeting approved an amendment from the Kansas State High School Activities Association (KSHSAA) that would change the classification of senior high schools.

In August, the State Board conducted a public hearing to consider the proposed change. Six people spoke during the hearing – three in favor of the proposed rule change and three against the change.

The purpose of the proposed rule change is to apply an enrollment multiplier factor when determining classification numbers of private schools. Factors for determining the multiplier include school location, socioeconomic status and championships.

The KSHSAA board of directors met April 29, 2022, to consider changes to rule 5 – classification of senior high schools. Following discussion and deliberations, the KSHSAA board supported the first step in the process to change school classification. Per KSHSAA board approval, the next step in the process was to assess the opinion of KSHSAA member schools, which took pace May 6. Ballot submissions from each member school was due June 14.

There were 216 (61.2%) member schools that voted yes and 139 that voted no.

The proposed rule change must now go before the Kansas Legislature.

The State Board met Sept. 13-14 in Topeka at the Landon State Office Building, 900 S.W. Jackson St.

Kansas Commissioner of Education Dr. Randy Watson highlighted three districts that are doing well in the area of postsecondary effectiveness: Chase County Unified School District 284, Goddard USD 265 and Triplains USD 275.

Postsecondary effectiveness measures the percent of students who are pursuing or have earned a postsecondary degree/certification two years after high school graduation.

In 2015, Chase County USD 284 had a postsecondary effectiveness rate of 40%. By 2022, it had increased to 68.3%.

In 2015, Goddard had a 52.2% postsecondary effectiveness rate. By 2022, the district had a 61.6% postsecondary effectiveness rate.

Triplains, which has fewer than 90 students, in 2015 had a 10% postsecondary effectiveness rate. By 2022, it had a 64.7% postsecondary effectiveness rate.

The State Board recognized the Wellsville High School FBLA Chapter, which had two teams place first at the 2022 National FLBA Leadership Conference in Chicago.

FBLA members Kendra Kemp, senior; Mason Lytle, sophomore; Jake Richards, senior, and Lola Kline, junior, answered questions about the National FBLA Leadership Conference.

The Wellsville High national champions were Scott Hoehn, who graduated in 2022, Kemp and Kline, who received first place in the Local Chapter Annual Business Report; and Kline, Lytle and Richards, who received first place in E-Business.

The State Board accepted the recommendations of the Commissioner’s Task Force on Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) and Emergency Assistance to Nonpublic Schools (EANS) Distribution of Money and approved the district expenditure plans for ESSER III and change requests for ESSER II.

Brian Dempsey, assistant director of the Kansas State Department of Education’s (KSDE) Special Education and Title Services (SETS) team, said there were 10 ESSER II change applications from districts, representing 63,028 students. The plans included 575 budgeted expenditure items with a total value of $86 million. Out of $343.5 million allocated for ESSER II, $321.1 million (94%) has been allocated, with $18.4 million (5%) remaining.

There were 24 districts that submitted ESSER III Plans, representing 57,203 students. The plans included 768 individual budgeted expenditures totaling $109 million. Nine districts submitted ESSER III change plans, representing 32,362 students. The plans included 217 individual budgeted expenditures totaling $33.9 million.

Out of $768.1 million allocated for ESSER III, $243.5 million (32%) has been allocated, with $411.2 million (53.5%) remaining, $109 million (14%) being reviewed and less than 1% in change requests.

Dr. Watson and Jim McNiece, a member of the State Board of Education, shared proposed graduation requirements from the 2021-2022 Graduation Requirements Task Force with the State Board.

McNiece and Jarred Fuhrman, former principal of Basehor-Linwood High School, Basehor-Linwood USD 458, served as co-chairs of the Task Force.

The Task Force was broken into four areas:

  1. Courses to add or delete, if any.
  2. Postsecondary assets.
  3. Demonstrate mastery and competency.
  4. Special needs students.

Watson and the State Board charged the Task Force with examining Kansas’ current high school graduation requirements in order to better meet the needs of students in the 21st century and reach the State Board’s vision to lead the world in the success of each student.

The Task Force was created in June 2021 and asked to identify courses to add or delete from current requirements (if any); review ways to demonstrate mastery of skills and competencies; study the need for value-added assets in addition to a high school diploma (industry-recognized certificate, Career and Technical Education, college credits); and ensure all students are included and all opportunities for success are studied.

The Task Force offered a statewide stakeholder survey. There were 2,147 participants. Overall, about 90% of responses were submitted by parents, teachers and community members.

Survey participants were asked if they would favor students learning by mastery/competency-based education. The proportion of business and industry respondents that favored mastery/competency-based education was significantly higher than the proportion of all other groups who favored mastery/competency-based education.

The Task Force recommended that under mastery and competency, the Individual Plan of Study (IPS) fidelity should be improved. The Task Force also recommended that the Kansas State Department of Education:

  • Define what constitutes the awarding of credit based on mastery and competency, using specific examples.
  • Establish criteria for alternative avenues to credit attainment.
  • Clarify the objective of IPS as a critical part of high school graduation pathways.
  • Provide assistance, structures and resources for students and families to improve education engagement which better meets the needs of all students.

The Task Force identified two categories of postsecondary assets and recommends students complete two or more postsecondary assets from either category aligned with their IPS.

Career and real-world postsecondary asset examples include youth apprenticeships; 40 or more community service hours; client-centered projects; workplace learning experience directly related to a student IPS; industry-recognized certifications; Seal of Biliteracy; CTE Scholar; Eagle Scout or Gold Scout; 4-H Kansas Key Award; two or more high school athletics/activities; JROTC; and 90% attendance in high school.

Academic postsecondary asset examples include an ACT composite (score of 21 or higher); WorkKeys level (silver or higher); nine-plus hours of college; State Assessment scores of 3 or 4 for math, English language arts, science (demonstrating college readiness); ASVAB per requirements of military branch selected; senior project/senior exit interviews; SAT score of 1480 or higher; completing Board of Regents curriculum; International Baccalaureate Exam (four-plus); and Advanced Placement Exam (three-plus).

Course classification recommendations are:

Present system                                          Recommendation

4 units of ELA                                             Communications (4)

3.5 ELA (reading, writing, literature, technical)

.5 communications (speech, debate, forensics)


3 units of history and government           Society and humanities (4)

1 unit of fine arts                                           2.5 social studies (world, US, government)

   1 humanities/arts

                                                           .5 fine arts (music, dance, art, theater, etc.)

    Additional fine arts, additional history and government, foreign language, elective social studies course.


3 units of science                                    STEM (7)

3 units of math                                         3 math (algebraic and geometric concepts)

                                                                   3 science (physical, biological, earth/space)

                                                                   1 STEM elective (computer science, advanced math, advanced science, advanced CTE, advanced technology)


1 unit of PE                                              Employability and Life Skills (6)

6 units of electives                                  .5 physical education

                                                                  .5 health

                                                                             .5 personal finance/financial literacy

4.5 IPS choices (emphasis on CTE/pathway courses)

The Task Force also recommended that the State Board consider the Kansas Board of Regents’ recommendation that students complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) prior to graduation. Any student, family member or school can opt out a student from completing the FAFSA.

The State Board will continue to discuss the recommendations and is slated in November to either:

  1. Adopt any or all of the recommendations.
  2. Keep existing graduation requirements.
  3. Establish a new group to examine these recommendations and bring back to the State Board greater clarity to graduation requirements.

The State Board recognized Bill McFarland, an author and a retired teacher from Washburn Rural Middle School (WRMS), Auburn-Washburn USD 437; Tim Rues, site administrator of the Lecompton Constitution Hall; Tim Nedeau, a teacher at WRMS; and Paul Bahnmaier, of the Lecompton Historical Society, for their efforts to preserve Kansas history. The four presented the history of the Free State Legislature print, how it was discovered and some of the interesting individuals who were involved.

The State Board approved the recommendations of the Accreditation Review Council (ARC) and awarded the status of accredited through the Kansas Education Systems Accreditation (KESA) to Derby USD 260 and Sacred Heart Elementary in Emporia. They also approved the recommendations of the ARC for redetermination of accredited to Spearville USD 381 and Marais des Cygnes Valley USD 456. State Board members asked for a one-year follow-up on Marais des Cygnes Valley USD 456.

Deputy Commissioner Dr. Craig Neuenswander introduced the proposed Kansas Purple Star School Designation, which would recognize military-friendly schools that meet specific criteria and demonstrate a commitment to serving students and families connected to the nation’s armed forces.

Dr. Keith Mispagel, superintendent of Fort Leavenworth USD 207, Dr. Reginald Eggleston, superintendent of Geary County Schools USD 475, and Heather Bohaty, superintendent of Derby USD 260, shared their support for the program.

There are four things that are considered during the Purple Star application process: districtwide activities; dedicated military student and family support webpage; schoolwide activities; and military support activities.

Applications would be due Feb. 1. In February, the Kansas Military Children Educational Council Committee would review applications, and recommendations would be presented to the State Board in March. Schools would renew for designation every three years. If a district is designated a Purple Star School, it would receive a certificate, letter of approval and public recognition.

 The Board is scheduled to act on the proposal at its October meeting.

State Board members received recommendations amending the State Board of Education guidelines and policies. Jean Clifford, a State Board member and a member of the Policy Committee, discussed proposed changes with other State Board members.

The Policy Committee is charged with reviewing State Board policies at least every two years. Review of the current policies and guidelines began in 2021.

The State Board is scheduled to act on the recommendations at its October meeting.

Shane Carter, director of KSDE’s Teacher Licensure, gave State Board members an update on the Teacher Vacancy and Supply Committee and Professional Standards Board Substitute Teacher Working Group.

In June, the Teacher Licensure team was asked to work with the Teacher Vacancy and Supply Committee and Professional Standards Board to identify long-term solutions to substitute teaching issues. Since June, the group has met three times to identify recommendations to provide to the State Board.

Recommendations include establishing specific substitute models and professional development training modules; createing a substitute handbook that includes a template that districts can use; and allowing all emergency substitute licenses to be valid for two school years.

On Wednesday morning, State Board of Education members recognized the 2021 Milken Educator Award recipients.

The 2021 Milken Educator Award recipients are Megan Morgan, a library/media specialist at Oliver Brown Elementary School, Manhattan USD 383, and Ryan Pfeifer, a science teacher at Washburn Rural High School, Auburn-Washburn USD 437.

Morgan and Pfeifer spoke to the board about what innovative programs and strategies they use to foster student achievements in their schools.

Each educator received an unrestricted cash award of $25,000.

Denise Kahler, KSDE’s director of Communications and Recognition Programs, kicked off discussion about Sunflower Summer, a program designed to encourage student learning throughout the summer and provide an opportunity for family engagement in the process. Through ESSER funding, students in grades pre-K through 12th and their family members were able to visit museums, zoos, historic landmarks and parks for free after downloading the free Sunflower Summer app.

The program began in the summer of 2021 with about 70 Kansas-based educational venues, said Janine Hron, associate director of The University of Kansas: Center for Public Partnerships and Research, and Michael Koonce, director of administrative services for Greenbush. The program increased to 90 participating venues this summer.

In 2021, there were 40,139 Sunflower Summer app downloads with 100,000 total user accounts. In 2022, there were 91,000 app downloads with 152,000 total user accounts.

Overall during the 2021 Sunflower Summer program, there were 43,120 students who participated and 28,108 adults – for a total of 71,228.

During the 2022 Sunflower Summer program, there were 121,198 students who participated and 82,636 adults – for a total of 203,834. These numbers include participants from all 105 counties in the state and 285 out of the 286 school districts.

Cheri Riffey, recreational trails coordinator/AmeriCorps director for the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks, shared about the 2022 Sunflower Summer Campout at Milford State Park. There were 105 campers – representing 26 families – who participated in the campout on July 7-8.

Adam Smith, president of the Exploration Place in Wichita, shared the venue’s experience with the Sunflower Summer Program. During the 2021 program, Exploration Place had 19,000 visitors through the Sunflower Summer program. In 2022, there were 46,989 visitors in 79 days, which is an average of 595 per day.

Lori Kersten, of Wichita, and her grandson, Parker Kersten, were participants of the Sunflower Summer program and shared about their experiences.

“It was so much fun to watch Parker get so excited about learning new things firsthand,” Lori Kersten said. “The look on his face, the reactions to new experiences, and the questions he had are a priceless memory we will always share. The joy of a butterfly landing on his shoulder. The discovery of artwork that encouraged painting his own picture, the giggles from watching the ducks scurry to get the food we were feeding the turtles. The smiles from petting stingrays, and the cheers from landing his rocket on the moon will always have a special place in my heart.”

The two visited 12 venues through the Sunflower Summer program.

“I really like most of the places we went but my favorite place was the Cosmosphere because I like space,” Parker said. “Thank you so much for creating the app and letting us go to these places for free.”

The State Board will meet next Oct. 11-12 in Topeka.

Posted: Sep 15, 2022,
Comments: 0,
Author: Ann Bush

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