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Kansas State Board of Education December highlights: Board discusses academic preparedness, chronic absenteeism and legislative priorities

December meeting is last one for three outgoing Board members

Academic preparedness, chronic absenteeism, 2023 legislative priorities, the Sunflower Summer Program and proposed amendments to licensure regulations were all topics of discussion for Kansas State Board of Education members during their December meeting.

Before the meeting started on Tuesday, Dec. 13, State Board members, along with other dignitaries and guests, honored three Board members who will be leaving their posts at the end of December. Janet Waugh, current vice chair, is the longest-serving State Board member with 24 years of service. Also leaving are Jean Clifford, who represents District 5, and Ben Jones, who represents District 7.

Outgoing Board of Education members will be replaced in January by Danny Zeck, District 1, Cathy Hopkins, District 5, and Dennis Hershberger, District 7.

Kansas Commissioner of Education Dr. Randy Watson kicked off the Kansas State Board of Education meeting with his monthly report.

There are 100 Kansas districts with 40% or more of their students scoring in Level 1 on the science state assessment, Watson said. There are 53 districts with 40% or more of their students scoring in Level 1 on the English language arts assessment, and there are 53 districts with 40% or more of their students scoring in Level 1 on the math state assessment.

There are actions the State Board can take in the future, Watson said. These include establishing clear goals for local school boards to discuss monthly, and establishing clear, measurable goals to monitor at the state level monthly and yearly to advance movement in academic achievement, chronic absenteeism and perseverance.

Deputy Commissioner Dr. Ben Proctor discussed academic preparedness with State Board of Education members. Performance level descriptors on state assessments fall into four levels:

  • Level 1: Limited.
  • Leven 2: Basic.
  • Level 3: Effective.
  • Level 4: Excellent.

If broken into eight levels - Level 1 (bottom), Level 1 (top), Level 2 (bottom), Level 2 (top), Level 3 (bottom) Level 3 (top), Level 4 (bottom) and Level 4 (top) - the largest percentage of students fall into the top half of Level 1 on the ELA and math summative assessments.

Students who fall into Level 1 demonstrate a limited ability to use and understand the skills and knowledge needed for postsecondary success, Proctor said.

Proctor and Kansas Commissioner of Education Dr. Randy Watson have talked about the importance of moving students out of Level 1. To do this, there are some areas that need to be addressed, such as student attendance, standards alignment, balanced assessments, early literacy and numeracy, tiered systems of support and kindergarten readiness.

A balanced assessment system includes:

  • Formative tools: Planned, instructionally embedded and ongoing.
  • Interim assessments: Intentionally developed and administered at particular intervals throughout the school year.
  • Summative assessments: Provide evidence of learning and mastery of standards at an endpoint in time.

Janine Hron, associate director for KU's Center for Public Partnerships & Research, and Michael Koonce, director, administrative services at Greenbush, told Board members that the 2023 summer will be the last for the Sunflower Summer Program.

The 2023 Sunflower Summer Program will include more venues, special events and day camps. The program will begin on Memorial Day 2023 and go through Aug. 6. There is about $3.5 million remaining for the program. The total cost for the program for the first year was about $1 million. The second year cost about $2.8 million. The program is being funded by federal COVID-19 money to offer summer enrichment activities for Kansas students.

Board members Ben Jones and Deena Horst led discussion on 2023 legislative priorities.

The Board approved these legislative priorities:

Academic support efforts

The State Board of Education supports the goal of moving toward providing the first 12 postsecondary credit hours, tuition-free, during high school.

Health and safety issues

The State Board also supports the following:

  • 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.
  • Support for expanded funding for Safe and Secure Schools grant to meet demand.
  • The legislative recommendations of the School Bus Stop Arm Violation Committee.
  • The efforts to reduce human trafficking in Kansas.
  • All efforts to reduce the opioid epidemic in Kansas, including making fentanyl test strips legal.
  • The ongoing work of the Juvenile Justice Oversight Committee.

Funding issues

The State Board supports the following:

  • The recommended funding levels approved by the Kansas Supreme Court.
  • Education public funds being provided to only 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.
  • Of opportunities to expand early childhood and kindergarten readiness.
  • Of funding transportation of students in all unsafe situations, regardless of mileage.

Meeting student needs

The State Board supports the following:

  • The concept of public-private partnerships with business and industry to allow for internships, mentoring, etc.
  • Legislation that requires that the State Board of Education and the legislature work together to monitor the success of the Foster Child Report Card.

Education policy governance

The State Board supports recognition of the following:

  • 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.

“The Kansas State Board of Education looks forward to working with the Legislature on initiatives proven to mold a successful Kansas high school graduate including academic preparation, kindergarten readiness, social-emotional learning, individualized plan of study and civic engagement,” the Board document states. “Working together, Kansans Can lead the world in the success of each student.”

Shane Carter, director of Teacher Licensure for the Kansas State Department of Education (KSDE), gave an update on proposed amendments to licensure regulations during the State Board’s public hearing on the matter. Two other people spoke during the public hearing, which was continued to the January 2023 meeting, during which the Board is expected to vote.

Proposed amendments include name changes:

  • The foreign exchange license would be called the Visiting International Teacher teaching license.
  • The foreign language endorsement would be changed to world language endorsement.
  • Special education generalist, high incidence endorsement will be changed to secondary education, unified.
  • Under technology education, there would be one comprehensive endorsement with a name change to Technology and Engineering Education. Separate subcategories would be deleted (communication technology and power, energy and transportation deleted).
  • Elementary education grade level changed to pre-K-6.


Proposed amendments also include endorsement additions:

  • An endorsement for driver education will be reinstated.
  • The mathematics endorsement will be replaced by a general math endorsement and an advanced endorsement.
  • Middle-level level generalist endorsement would allow an individual to teach fifth through eighth-grade grade math, English, history, government, social studies and science. Added by test only.
  • A new leadership license was created for directors of special education.
  • A “test plus” was created for ESOL and CTE endorsements (FACS, agriculture, technical education). This includes content-specific professional learning, an assessment and the content test.

Other proposed amendments include:

  • Removing the requirement for an “in effect” (currently valid) teaching license for an out-of-state applicant for a teaching license (achievement of a standard license in the home state).
  • School counselor – Removing the requirement for professional-level teaching license for traditional route (initial level or professional level. Created provisional license for direct entry route.
  • Creates a limited-use license – Designed after the coalition certificate. Similar to the restricted teaching license.


State Board of Education members accepted the recommendation of the Accreditation Review Council (ARC) and approved accreditation for Atchison County Unified School District 377.

During the 2022-2023 school year, 179 systems (157 public, one state and 21 private) are scheduled for accreditation. Of these 179 systems, 174 entered the Kansas Education Systems Accreditation process as year-one systems and chose to pause because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In November, ARC met and determined accreditation recommendations for three public systems – Hutchinson USD 308, Perry USD 343 and Udall USD 463. ARC recommends that all three systems be accredited. The State Board is scheduled to act on the recommendations during its January 2023 monthly meeting.

Chad Ralston, director of the Blue Valley Center for Advanced Professional Studies (CAPS) program, and three Blue Valley CAPS students gave a presentation to State Board members.

Katherine Ryan, a senior at Blue Valley High School, has taken three separate CAPS classes – molecular bioengineering, mechanical engineering and clinical medicine (CNA certification).

Addison Brandau, a senior at Blue Valley North High School, is enrolled in the CAPS Future of Food Course and is mentored by industry professionals from every corner of the food industry. In the culminating course experience, students develop a new food product in the CAPS test kitchen, write a business plan and pitch it at the CAPS Shark Tank.

Dr. Robyn Kelso, a KSDE education program consultant, spoke about chronic absenteeism.

Chronic absenteeism is defined as missing 10% or more of school days for any reason (excused and unexcused). Truancy is defined by statute and isn’t the same thing as chronic absenteeism.

Some strategies to help address chronic absenteeism include:

  • Form data teams to evaluate attendance-related issues.
  • Identify characteristics of chronically absent students and decide on interventions that can be broken down across three tiers.
  • Relationships are key/create a culture of attendance.


Jane Groff, executive director of the Kansas Parent Information Resource Center (KPIRC), told Board members that chronic absenteeism has recently become a big focus for her organization.

Groff said there are many reasons students are absent, and they fit into four broad categories – barriers, negative school experiences, lack of engagement and misconceptions.

Barriers are factors that impede a student from getting to school, such as transportation.

Negative school experiences include a range of challenges, such as bullying or unfair disciplinary practices, which can cause a student or a student’s family to avoid school.

A lack of engagement is the result of factors, such as the absence of a relationship with at least one caring adult, or culturally relevant and engaging instruction, which results in a student feeling little or no connection to school.

Misconceptions are common ideas about attendance that families or students believe to be true but aren’t. For example, too often missing class is only seen as a problem if absences are unexcused.

Deputy Commissioner Dr. Craig Neuenswander gave a legislative update to State Board members. He discussed recommendations from the interim committee concerning special education funding options.

Scott Gordon, KSDE’s general counsel, shared information about the interstate occupational licensure compact, which is a legally binding agreement enacted by state legislation. Other occupational compacts include nursing, emergency medical services, physical therapists, occupational therapists and counseling.

The compact creates an agreed-upon regulatory framework for teacher reciprocity, Gordon said. It speeds up the application process for moving licensees and reduces time and resources spent by licensing agencies.

To obtain a Kansas license via the compact, the licensee would have to have a bachelor’s degree, complete all requirements of a state-approved program for teacher licensure and has a currently valid, unencumbered license from another member state.

Each member state would designate one employee as its voting commissioner. The commission would create a code of ethics, a budget and rules/regulations for itself.

The compact becomes active upon adoption by the 10th member state.

State Board members 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.

Tate Toedman, assistant director of KSDE’s Special Education and Title Services team, said there were six ESSER II change applications from districts, representing 4,476 students. The plans include 200 individual budgeted expenditures items with a total value of $3.8 million. Out of $343.5 million allocated for ESSER II, $339.7 million (99%) has been allocated, with $3.8 million (less than 1%) remaining.

Thirteen districts submitted ESSER III plans, representing 12,202 students. The plans included 269 individual budgeted expenditures totaling $19 million. Eight districts submitted ESSER III change plans, representing 20,657 students. The change plans included 242 individual budgeted expenditures totaling $24.6 million.

Out of $768.1 million allocated for ESSER III, $581 million (76%) has been approved for allocation, with $167 (22%) million remaining, $19 million (2%) being reviewed and $19 million (2%) in change requests.

On Wednesday, Board members recognized Ben Cutler, who grew up in Neodesha and created the Neodesha Promise Scholarship Program. Cutler is helping students from Neodesha High School pay for college tuition and fees through the program.

Through the program, which started in November 2019, 92 students have received scholarships totaling $368,000 (to attend 29 different institutions). Funds can be used to receive a bachelor's degree, associate degree or technical certificate.

Those 92 scholarship recipients have completed a total of 5,345 community service hours.

To participate in the program, Neodesha students have to have a 2.5 GPA, receive a 20 on the ACT (if attending a four-year university), complete at least 40 hours of community service and be in good standing within the district.

Cutler said he has "sufficient resources in place" to sustain the Neodesha Promise Scholarship Program for the next 25 years.

David Grover, superintendent of Cheney USD 268, Greg Rosenhagen, principal of Cheney High School, and Nichole Hendrickson, college and career director for Cheney High School, gave a presentation to State Board members about how the district has increased its postsecondary effectiveness rate.

The postsecondary success rate is the percent of high school graduates who either earned an industry-recognized certification, a higher education degree or continued their education two years after graduation. The postsecondary effectiveness rate uses the same post high school criteria but includes all students who began high school in ninth grade, regardless of graduation status. 

In 2014, Cheney High School had a graduation rate of 91.9%. By 2020, the rate increased to 96.2%. The school’s postsecondary effectiveness rate increased from 51.6% in 2014 to 80.4 in 2019. It dipped to 73.6% in 2020.

A high school schedule change allowed for more elective classes to be offered. The schedule went from a four-by-four block to a five-by-five block. The course catalog now includes 144 classes, with more CTE offerings. Classes now align more to student interests and their Individual Plans of Study, Cheney High School personnel said.

The high school also works with local community colleges to offer several certifications with more being added. The high school’s schedule accommodates these college courses.

Daniel Archer, with the Kansas Board of Regents (KBOR), attended the meeting to discuss a statewide dual credit agreement.

The goal of the agreement is to implement a uniform statewide agreement on how some college credits are applied to high school graduation requirements. Systemwide transfer courses have equivalent outcomes and transfer to all public postsecondary institutions offering those courses. A standard application of systemwide transfer courses toward high school graduation requirements, regardless of where students live or which district they attend, affirms equitable results for all.

The State Board and KBOR will continue to work together on the agreement.

The State Board will meet next on January 10-11 at the Landon State Office Building, 900 S.W. Jackson, Suite 102, in Topeka.

Posted: Dec 19, 2022,
Comments: 0,
Author: Ann Bush

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