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Kansas State Board of Education April 2019 highlights: Apollo districts named

Posted: Apr 19, 2019
Author: Ann Bush

Forty-one schools representing 19 districts across Kansas will take part in Apollo, the fourth phase of the Kansans Can School Redesign Project, the Kansas State Department of Education announced Tuesday, April 16.

The names of the schools and districts were shared during the Kansas State Board of Education meeting. Tuesday’s announcement brings the total number of schools taking part in the redesign process to about 150, representing 66 school districts.

The Kansans Can School Redesign Project was announced in 2017 in support of Kansas’ vision for education - Kansas leads the world in the success of each student. The vision was created in 2015 based on feedback from 20 community meetings and seven business conversations that took place across the state.

During those conversations, Kansans said that schools need to place an equal amount of focus on helping students develop nonacademic skills, such as social-emotional growth, as they do on developing academic skills. This vision calls for a more student- focused system that provides support and resources for individual success.

KSDE’s Jay Scott and Tammy Mitchell announced the names of the districts.

Districts and the schools taking part in the Apollo phase of school redesign process are:

  • Augusta Unified School District 402: Ewalt Elementary School, Lincoln Elementary School, Robinson Elementary School and Garfield Elementary School.
  • Barber County North USD 254: Medicine Lodge Grade School and Medicine Lodge Junior/Senior High School.
  • Columbus USD 493: Columbus Unified High School.
  • Deerfield USD 216: Deerfield Elementary School, Deerfield Middle School and Deerfield High School.
  • Easton USD 449: Pleasant Ridge Elementary School.
  • Ell-Saline USD 307: Ell-Saline Elementary School and Ell-Saline Middle/High School.
  • Frontenac USD 249: Frank Layden Elementary School and Frontenac Junior High School.
  • Goodland USD 352: West Elementary School, North Elementary School and Goodland Junior/Senior High School.
  • Herington USD 487: Herington Elementary School and Herington Middle/High School.
  • Holton USD 336: Holton Middle School and Holton High School.
  • Hutchinson USD 308: Wiley Elementary School and Hutchinson STEM Magnet School at Allen.
  • Kaw Valley USD 321: St. Mary’s Grade School, Rossville Grade School, St. Mary’s Junior/Senior High School and Rossville Junior/Senior High School.
  • Lawrence USD 497: Broken Arrow Elementary School, Deerfield Elementary School, Hillcrest Elementary School and Free State High School.
  • Northeast USD 246: Northeast High School.
  • Oberlin USD 294: Oberlin Elementary School and Decatur Community High School.
  • Perry-Lecompton USD 343: Perry-Lecompton Middle School and Perry-Lecompton High School.
  • Uniontown USD 235: Uniontown Junior/Senior High School.
  • Wabaunsee USD 329: Maple Hill Elementary School.
  • Washington County Schools USD 108: Washington Elementary School and Washington County Junior/Senior High School.


KSDE’s Scott Smith, director of Career, Standards and Assessment Services (CSAS), and Mark Tallman, associate executive director of the Kansas Association of School Boards (KASB), led discussion on academic achievement in Kansas.

Academic achievement is only part of student success, Smith said. The community conversations KSDE conducted in 2015 show that Kansans think nonacademic skills, such as perseverance, conscientiousness and teamwork, are equally as important as academic achievement for students to be successful after high school.

Kansas Curricular Standards are among the most rigorous in the United States. As of 2017, Kansas ranked sixth among all other states for the strength of its proficiency standards.

Student performance hasn’t declined, Smith said. It is expected that when the bar is raised, there will be a lower percentage of students reaching that higher standard. That isn’t an indication that student performance has declined.

Tallman said since 1990, high school completion in Kansas has risen from just over 80 percent to more than 90 percent and improved for each major racial/ethnic group in Kansas – although there still are some disparities.

State Board of Education members approved the Kansas model standards for pre-kindergarten through 12th grade computer science. KSDE’s Stephen King, an education program consultant, led the discussion. Board members asked questions about the implementation process and professional development for primary teachers.

Dr. Rick Doll, executive director of the Kansas Educational Leadership Institute (KELI), gave board members an update on the organization. The mission of KELI is to collaborate and share resources to support professional growth of educational leaders needed in Kansas schools for the 21st Century and to mentor new district, school and special education administrators in their first two years and provide ongoing professional earning opportunities for these leaders.

KELI meets their mission through a partnership with KSDE, KASB, United School Administrators, Kansas School Superintendents’ Association and Kansas State University, Doll said.

State Board of Education members heard from several of the 2018 Kansas Blue Ribbon Schools. The schools were honored in November 2018 at a ceremony in Washington, D.C.

The schools and their principals are:

  • Hillcrest Elementary School, Lawrence Unified School District 497, principal Tammy Becker.
  • Lee Elementary School, Manhattan-Ogden USD 383, principal Mindy Sanders.
  • Marion Elementary School, Marion USD 408, principal Justin Wasmuth.
  • Sterling Grade School, Sterling USD 376, principal Brennan Riffel.
  • Valley Heights Elementary School, Valley Heights USD 498, principal Robert Green.
  • Magdalen Catholic School, Wichita, principal Kristin Schmitz.

Principals shared with board members the factors they have found to be most significant in raising student achievement at their schools.

KSDE’s Gayla Randel announced that 39 Kansas high school seniors have been named 2019 Kansas Career and Technical Education (CTE) scholars.

The Kansas CTE Scholar program is an opportunity to recognize well-rounded outstanding CTE students who are finishing their senior years of high school. This is the second year for the initiative.

Deputy Commissioner Dale Dennis updated board members on legislative items.

On Wednesday, April 17, board members visited the Kansas State School for the Blind and the Kansas School for the Deaf. They also visited two of the Kansans Can School Redesign Project: Mercury 7 schools – Santa Fe Trail Middle School and Westview Elementary School, both in Olathe USD 233.


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