Kansas State Board of Education members at their February meeting honored two Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) schools, discussed proposed regulation changes that reflect recently approved changes to graduation requirements and approved changes to teaching licensure regulations.
The State Board met Feb. 14-15 in Topeka.
Kansas Commissioner of Education Dr. Randy Watson began Tuesday’s meeting with his Commissioner’s Report.
Watson talked about the actions the State Board has taken to help Kansas high school graduates become successful, such as establishing rigorous academic standards in English language arts, math and science; approving high cut scores for state assessments; and establishing, with the assistance of the Kansas Legislature, a dyslexia position at the Kansas State Department of Education (KSDE) to assist school districts in implementing the science of reading. The Board also set aside more than $16 million to train teachers in the science of reading and math.
Watson highlighted Chetopa-St. Paul Unified School District 505 for the district’s improvement in the areas of high school graduation rates and postsecondary effectiveness. The district has “made remarkable gains from where they were,” Watson said. For example, the district had a graduation rate of 88.1% in 2016. By 2022, that had increased to 94.4%
The district had a postsecondary effectiveness rate in 2015 of 48%. It increased to 55.7% by 2020.
State Board of Education members adopted proposed amendments to teacher licensure regulations, including changes to the names of some licenses, adding endorsements and deleting some requirements.
Tate Toedman, assistant director of KSDE’s Special Education and Title Services (SETS) team, introduced the two 2022 ESEA (Every Student Succeeds Act) Distinguished Schools - Hillsboro Elementary School, Durham-Hillsboro-Lehigh USD 410, and Westview Elementary School, Olathe USD 233.
Clint Corby, superintendent of Durham-Hillsboro-Lehigh USD 410, and Nathan Hiebert, principal of Hillsboro Elementary, told the Board that the school serves 313 students in grades pre-K-5. Forty-seven percent of the Hillsboro Elementary School student body qualifies for free and reduced-price meals. Hillsboro Elementary School was recognized in category 1 – Exceptional Student Performance for Two or More Consecutive Years.
Hiebert shared information about the importance of stakeholder involvement, quality instruction, intentional relationships and high-quality staff members. The school uses the Project Lead the Way program, he added.
Cindy Kapeller, principal of Westview Elementary School, discussed the cultural shift at the school. Westview was recognized in category 2 – Closing the Achievement Gap Between Student Groups.
Board members accepted recommendations from the Commissioner’s Task Force on Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) and Emergency Assistance Nonpublic Schools (EANS) Distribution of Money to approve the district expenditure plans for ESSER III and ESSER II change requests.
Doug Boline, assistant director of KSDE’s SETS team, said there were 19 ESSER II change applications from districts, representing 11,726 students. The plan includes 367 individual budgeted expenditures items with a total value of $5.8 million. Out of $343.5 million allocated for ESSER II, $340.7 million (99%) has been approved by the State Board with $2.4 million remaining.
Twenty-one districts submitted ESSER III plans, representing 13,514 students. The plans included 469 individual budgeted expenditures totaling $18.6 million being considered eligible expenditures. Eighteen districts submitted ESSER III change plans, representing 20,585 students. The change plans included 469 individual budgeted expenditures totaling $38.9 million.
Out of $768.1 million allocated for ESSER III, $617.1 million (80%) has been approved for allocation, with $125.6 million (16%) remaining, $18.6 million (3%) being reviewed and $6.8 million (1%) in change requests.
Deputy Commissioner Dr. Craig Neuenswander gave State Board of Education members an update on House and Senate bills that the KSDE has been following.
Dr. Laurie Curtis, early literacy/dyslexia program manager for KSDE’s Career, Standards and Assessment Services (CSAS) team, shared a presentation on the Kansas Science of Reading.
The “science of reading” isn’t a curriculum, Curtis said. It is a body of knowledge that informs what is known about how the brain works when learning to read. Dyslexia is neurobiological in origin – a difference in how the brain connects language and print. This is evidenced by students having specific difficulty in decoding and encoding the alphabetic system.
Dyslexia isn’t uncommon in students and isn’t caused by poor instruction, Curtis said. However, it can be influenced by good instruction. Early identification of risk and intervention are important.
Curtis also discussed the current screening protocol and the challenges that come along with it; required dyslexia training; and professional learning.
State Board of Education members accepted the recommendation of the Accreditation Review Council (ARC) and approved accreditation through the Kansas Education Systems Accreditation (KESA) for six districts:
During the 2022-2023 school year, 179 systems (157 public, one state and 21 private) are scheduled for accreditation.
In January, the ARC met and determined accreditation recommendations for 13 systems:
The State Board is scheduled to act on the recommendations during its March 2023 monthly meeting.
KSDE’s General Counsel Scott Gordon discussed regulation updates that will need to be made to reflect the newly established graduation requirements.
Proposed changes include removing outdated terms and updating others and updating credit requirements for the following units: English language arts, history and government, science, mathematics, fine arts, electives and physical education, as well as adding one-half unit of financial literacy.
Other changes include the addition of:
These proposed regulatory changes will be discussed again during the March meeting with potential action in April.
State Board of Education members approved signing a joint resolution with the Kansas Board of Regents regarding dual-credit courses. The resolution means both entities formally agree that students should receive college credit in subject areas most closely aligned with disciplines approved by KBOR regardless of which public postsecondary educational institution delivered the course.
KSDE's Amanda Petersen, director of Early Childhood, presented information on the work the KSDE Early Childhood team has been involved in, including the All In For Kansas Kids strategic plan, early childhood collaborations and the Kindergarten in Kansas booklet.
The Kindergarten in Kansas booklet is for families of young children who are getting ready to begin kindergarten. Since August 2021, more than 46,000 free copies have been distributed.
Niomi Ndirangu, Miss Kansas' Outstanding Teen 2022, shared her message about the importance of seizure first aid and epilepsy education with Board members.
On Wednesday, Feb. 15, State Board members met at the Kansas State High School Activities Association (KSHSAA) for a retreat.
Doug Moeckel and Dr. Brian Jordan from the Kansas Association of School Boards led the retreat. Board members spent time in groups answering questions posed by Moeckel and Jordan. They discussed what the role of the State Board is; topics that can create a unity of purpose for the Board; collective behaviors of high-performing boards; and culture.
The next State Board of Education meeting will be March 14-15.
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