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Kansas State Board of Education August highlights: Board awards accreditation to private, public school systems

Posted: Aug 23, 2019
Author: Ann Bush

The Kansas State Board of Education during its August meeting accepted the recommendations of the Accreditation Review Council (ARC) and awarded the status of accredited to eight public systems (districts) and 13 private systems. 

Mischel Miller, director of the Kansas State Department of Education’s (KSDE) Teacher Licensure and Accreditation (TLA) team, spoke to the board about accreditation on Tuesday, Aug. 13. The board approved the Kansas Education Systems Accreditation (KESA) process in 2016 as the new model to accredit schools in Kansas. KESA shifted accreditation from schools to the district/system level and moved it from a yearly process to a five-year cycle. 

During the 2018-2019 school year, ARC reviewed the documentation of 22 systems – both public and private – to determine an accreditation recommendation to present to the State Board of Education. Upon review of the documentation, data and process reports, ARC forwarded the recommendations and executive summaries from each system to the board. The executive summaries were presented to State Board of Education at the July board meeting. 

The public systems that were accredited were Nemaha Central USD 115; Humboldt USD 258; Prairie View USD 362; Andover USD 385; Douglass USD 396; Great Bend USD 428; Abilene USD 435; and Fredonia USD 484. 

The private systems accredited were Holy Cross Lutheran; Sacred Heart, Ottawa; Saint Gregory; Holy Trinity, Paola; Saint Benedict; Xavier; Ascension Catholic School; Christ the King, Topeka; Saint Matthew; Holy Trinity, Lenexa; Nativity Parish; Saint Joseph, Shawnee; and Prince of Peace. 

The ARC recommended, and the board accepted, that Zion Lutheran be moved to a 2022 evaluation year in the accreditation cycle in order to address areas for improvement. The school will remain accredited under Quality Performance Accreditation (QPA) until that time. 

Kansas Commissioner of Education Dr. Randy Watson shared the names of the Kansans Civic Advocacy Network (CAN) Award winners and the Kansans CAN Promising Practice awards for 2019. 

The purpose of CAN is to recognize schools that actively involve students in civic engagement opportunities and to collect exemplary practices to share with schools across the state. The ultimate goal is to promote civic engagement as part of all preK-12 students’ experiences. 

The award winners will be honored at a ceremony from 1 to 2:30 p.m. Sept. 17, 2019, which is Constitution Day, at the Memorial Building Auditorium in Topeka. 

CAN Award winners are:

  • Whittier Elementary, Winfield Unified School District 465
  • North Lyon County Elementary, Americus USD 251
  • Seaman High School, Seaman USD 345
  • Shawnee Mission Northwest, Shawnee Mission USD 512
  • South Barber High School, Kiowa USD 255
  • Swaney Elementary School, Derby USD 260
  • Santa Fe Trail Middle School, Olathe USD 233

Promising Practice award winners are:

  • Bernadine Sitts Intermediate, Garden City USD 457
  • Derby High School, Derby USD 260
  • West Middle School, Lawrence USD 497

Watson also spoke about the option of using the ACT to replace the 10th-grade state assessment beginning in the spring of 2021. The ACT exam could possibly be combined with the ACT WorkKeys as part of accreditation, he said. He told board members he would like to seek input from superintendents and curriculum leaders in September and early October. The input from those two groups could be reported to the State Board for consideration in October. 

Board of Education members accepted the plans of two additional school districts involved in the Kansans Can School Redesign Project, allowing the districts to launch during the 2019-2020 school year. Geary County USD 475 was approved to launch as a Gemini I district, including Lincoln Elementary School, Westwood Elementary School and Junction City High School. Southern Lyon USD 252 was approved to launch as a Gemini II district, including Olpe Elementary School, Neosho Rapids Elementary School, Olpe Junior-Senior High School and Hartford Junior-Senior High School. 

Tammy Mitchell, the elementary school redesign specialist for the Kansas State Department of Education (KSDE), said the two districts join another 71 schools in 30 districts approved by the State Board in July for the launch of their redesign plans during the 2019-2020 school year. 

Gemini I schools applied to be a part of the project prior to the 2017-2018 school year, and upon acceptance, were given the option of planning for one or two years prior to launching. Gemini I schools cleared for launch during the 2019-2020 school year opted to take two years to plan before launching. 

The Gemini II schools applied and were accepted into the project prior to the 2018-2019 school year and were given one year to plan prior to launching. 

The State Board of Education approved Kansas educator preparation program standards for driver education. In March 2018, KSDE brought together a committee of teachers from all grade levels, as well as representatives from business and industry and postsecondary education agencies, to draft model ninth- through 12th-grade educator preparation program standards for driver education. The proposed standards were presented for consideration to board members at the July 2019 meeting. 

Susan McMahan, director of KSDE’s Safe and Secure Schools Unit, gave a presentation to the board on the progress of the unit. Kelly Ralston, special agent in charge of the Kansas Bureau of Investigation (KBI), explained the Suspicious Activity Reporting (SAR) system created for Kansas school districts and their communities. The SAR system is located on the Safe and Secure Schools (KSDE) and KBI websites. A QR code has been created that students can use to report school violence and other issues. 

The SAR tool is completely anonymous and was utilized at the end of the 2018-2019 school year. A poster also has been created for schools to promote the school safety hotline, the Parent and Youth Resource Hotline and the SAR system. The KBI has been working with the Kansas Highway Patrol (KHP), which responds to the Kansas School Safety Hotline, to copy information they receive and upload it to the SAR system. This will make one repository for information, allowing the information to be quickly accessed and analyzed. 

Mark Thompson, an education program consultant for KSDE’s Career, Standards and Assessment Services (CSAS) team, gave board members an update on the E-Cigarette/Vaping Task Force. Information on resources available to Kansas districts, such as the Kansas Vape-Free Schools Toolkit and a webinar for educators, was distributed to school representatives across the state via listservs. 

KSDE’s Tate Toedman, KSDE’s assistant director for Special Education and Title Services (SETS) team, and Maureen Ruhlman, KSDE’s state coordinator of homeless children and youth, provided an overview of the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act. 

Cheryl Johnson, director of KSDE’s Child Nutrition and Wellness (CNW) team, and Jill Ladd, assistant director of CNW, said that Kansas schools served 860,000 more breakfasts during the 2018-2019 school year than in the 2017-2018 school year by implementing innovative breakfast delivery models. Food staff members from Wichita USD 259, Olathe USD 233 and Prairie Hills USD 113 presented how they increased breakfast participation in their districts by using innovative breakfast delivery models. 

Johnson and Ladd also presented the KSDE Child Nutrition and Wellness Kansans Can 2018-2019 Best Practice Awards. The awards celebrate districts and organizations with outstanding practices in CNW programs that help support the Kansans Can vision, which is “Kansas leads the world in the success of each student.” 

Awardees are:

Wichita USD 259: Kansans Can Increase Participation

Haven USD 312: Kansans Can Celebrate Nutrition and Wellness Special Event and Innovative Meal Pattern Strategies

Garden City USD 457: Kansans Can Provide New Meal Options

Manhattan USD 383: Kansans Can Provide Outstanding Customer Service

Prairie Hills USD 113: Kansans Can Increase Participation

Dodge City USD 443: Kansans Can Serve It Safe

Olathe USD 233: Kansans Can Increase Participation and Serve It Safe

Social Innovation Laboratory: Kansans Can Provide Innovative Meal Pattern Strategies

Quality Care Services Inc.: Kansans Can Manage Finances 

Scott Gordon, KSDE’s general counsel, gave an update on the amount and types of cases reviewed by the Professional Practices Commission. 

There were 1,039 licenses/applications reviewed by the Office of the General Counsel between January 2018 and July 2019. Of those, 100 were Cleared with Permission. In order to be Cleared with Permission, a new licensee has to be without felonies within 10 years or misdemeanors within five years; and renewals are without felonies within five years or misdemeanors within two years. 

The board is slated to take action on a proposed amendment to KAR 91-22-1a during the September 2019 meeting. 

The board also:

  • Accepted the recommendations of the Professional Practices Commission.
  • Appointed Deena Horst, District 6 board representative, to serve as the state’s voting delegate for the annual conference of the National Association of State Boards of Education (NASBE). Board member Ben Jones was selected as an alternate.

Received a presentation on the Science of Reading by Cindy Hadicke, a KSDE education program consultant. Hadicke conducted Science of Reading trainings this summer for Kansas educators and shared some of the information with board members.

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