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Commissioner shares progress update with Kansas State Board of Education

Commissioner shares progress update with Kansas State Board of Education
Posted: Oct 17, 2017
Author: Ann Bush

Two years ago, the Kansas State Board of Education launched a new vision for Kansas education — Kansas leads the world in the success of each student. Board members on Tuesday, Oct. 17, 2017, received an update on the progress the state has made toward that goal.

Kansas Commissioner of Education Dr. Randy Watson presented the update and the 2016-2017 Annual Report. The report is a look back at the past, as well as a look forward to the future, Watson told board members during his presentation.

The work that has taken place during the past two years is moving the focus away from a single measure, such as assessment scores, to measuring items like postsecondary success and effective rates — what happens to Kansas students once they leave high school. Focusing solely on state assessment results isn’t going to move Kansas forward, Watson said. As a state, we need to ensure that we are preparing students with the skills needed to meet Kansas’ workforce education requirements.

“The board’s vision for Kansas education has set the state on a new, bold path, and we are grateful to our schools and educators who are working even harder to accommodate the changes needed to achieve this vision,” Watson said. “Student success data, as measured by postsecondary effective rates, are 25 to 30 percent below where we want to be by 2026. This ambitious goal sets the bar high and is what Kansans told us they wanted from their schools. Student success encompasses academic and nonacademic skills alike. By moving our focus toward the whole child, Kansas is moving in the right direction.”

Kansas schools are being asked to look at two new measures of student success — postsecondary success rates and postsecondary effective rates.

The postsecondary success rate is the percent of high school graduates who have met one of the following outcomes within two years after high school graduation: 
•    Earned an industry-recognized certification while in high school.
•    Earned a postsecondary certification.
•    Earned a postsecondary degree.
•    Or is enrolled in a postsecondary program in both the first and second year following high school graduation.

The postsecondary effective rate is the calculated graduation rate multiplied by the calculated success rate. The effective rate factors in all students — those who did and didn’t graduate high school — whereas the success rate only factors in students who graduated high school.

The state goal for postsecondary success is 70 to 75 percent. This goal represents what the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce predicts will be the percent of jobs in Kansas that will require some level of postsecondary education by the year 2020. 

Watson on Tuesday also discussed Kansas assessment data, which was released as part of the web-based 2016-2017 Kansas Report Card. The report card can be found on the Kansas State Department of Education’s website, www.ksde.org

Watson cautioned that assessments in Kansas are a mixed bag that can’t be viewed in isolation. The 2017 Kansas state assessment results are relatively flat, and in some cases, decreased modestly. At the same time, data show an increase in the number of Kansas students taking Advanced Placement (AP) courses and an increase in the percent of those students earning a 3, 4 or 5 on AP exams. Additionally dual-credit enrollment has nearly doubled in the past year and the number of college course credits earned while in high school has increased by 20,000. Watson posed the question, “How can this be?”

“We can speculate all we want,” Watson said. “But if we stop here, we’re going to miss something.”

Focusing solely on state assessment results won’t move Kansas closer toward its vision goal, Watson said. It will simply ensure that educators focus solely on test-preparation. Instead, he said, we need to focus on the whole child — from kindergarten readiness to social-emotional growth and postsecondary success.

KSDE has put several initiatives into place and collaborated on others to help move the state closer to its vision goal.

KSDE and the State Board of Education are working with districts across the state to redesign schools and the way students are taught. The Kansans Can School Redesign Project kicked off in August when seven Kansas school districts — each representing one of the Mercury 7 astronauts — were named to take part in the project. KSDE received 29 applications for the project. Twenty-one of the schools that applied accepted the challenge of becoming a Gemini district.

Kansas school districts also are being accredited under the new Kansas Education Systems Accreditation (KESA) model. This new five-year model accredit systems, such as school districts, instead of individual schools. KESA replaces the old system, Quality Performance Accreditation (QPA).

In order to help improve graduation rates in the state and help students become successful after high school, KSDE has implemented several initiatives, such as kindergarten readiness, family engagement, civic engagement and social-emotional growth, to help improve graduation rates in the state.

KSDE also has placed a special focus on chronic absenteeism. The agency is encouraging districts to support students with attendance issues. KSDE also is putting an emphasis on personalized learning to help retain students so they will become successful graduates.


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