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Kansas State Board of Education January highlights: Board members approve recommendations to address bullying

Posted: Jan 24, 2020
Author: Ann Bush

The Kansas State Board of Education at its January 2020 meeting approved recommendations from the Kansas Blue Ribbon Task Force on Bullying to help combat the issue in Kansas.

Recommendations include:

  • Better support and direction for school districts.
  • Continue and develop the state’s focus on social-emotional and character development education to address school bullying.
  • Examine the current state law and determine if it requires reconsideration.
  • Local policies and plans must focus on relationships, school climate and culture, and the mental health impact of bullying in schools.
  • The state needs better data on school bullying and measures for assessing program effectiveness.
  • Address cyberbullying.
  • Training, professional development and teacher preparation.

James Regier, superintendent of Remington-Whitewater Unified School District 206, and Dr. Rick Ginsberg, University of Kansas dean of education, served as co-chairs of the task force. Dr. Ginsberg answered board member questions before the vote.

Kansas Commissioner of Education Dr. Randy Watson gave his commissioner’s report to the Kansas State Board of Education on Tuesday, Jan. 14. He discussed graduation rates and said more students are graduating high school and going on to earn a certificate or degree after high school.

Watson also reminded board members that the Kansans Can School Redesign Project: Apollo II application window will open the first week of February and will close April 3. The selected districts will be announced at the April board meeting.

State Board of Education members received recommendations on the implementation plan for computer science standards.

Stephen King, enterprise architect for the Kansas State Department of Education (KSDE), presented the five recommendations of the Computer Science Education Implementation Task Force.
Recommendations are:

  • KSDE creates a dedicated computer science education position.
  • KSDE should encourage all schools to offer computer science.
  • Computer science should satisfy a core graduation requirement.
  • Create a licensure endorsement.
  • Arrange funding.

The Kansas Computer Science Education Implementation Task Force was formed in June 2019 with the mission of creating recommendations for the State Board of Education to further computer science education throughout the state.

Mark Thompson, a KSDE education program consultant, gave an update to board members on the E-Cigarette/Vaping Task Force. Board members will receive best practice recommendations for schools to implement regarding student discipline for those who are caught using or possessing Electronic Nicotine Delivery System (ENDS) devices or components.

Joann McRell, a KSDE education program consultant, discussed Kansas model standards for handwriting with board members. The model standards for kindergarten through sixth-grade handwriting recently underwent a review in accordance with the legislative mandate. The 2019 Kansas Handwriting Standards Committee members were carefully selected to represent various student populations across various geographical regions of Kansas. McRell shared the committee’s work and proposed changes to the curricular standards.

The committee, in response to the field, created a glossary of handwriting terms so there was common terminology; reinforced automaticity in production, which reduces cognitive overload in creating characters and solidifies letter recognition; and supported legibility, which supports functional grasp, solidifies letter recognition and reinforces orthographic mapping.

Shifts in handwriting standards include:

  • Working memory and production.
  • Form vs. produce.
  • Creating a hybrid.

The model standards for handwriting will come before the board for action in February.

Kimberly Muff, an education program consultant for KSDE, gave an update on the Literacy Network of Kansas (LiNK). KSDE received the Striving Readers Comprehensive Literacy award in September 2017. The $27-plus million project provides the state with an opportunity to build capacity for literacy at the state, regional and community levels.

KSDE, in partnership with the University of Kansas Center for Research on Learning, formed a LiNK leadership team and worked closely with a team of literacy experts – the Kansas State Literacy Team (KSLT), to develop professional development activities and resources for prospective applicants. KSDE announced eight grant recipients in June 2018. Recipients included four district awardees and four consortia awardees, representing 32 school districts and about 88,000 children from 190 schools across the state.

Muff provided an overview of accomplishments during the first year of grant implementation. Through LiNK, more than 30,000 books have been given to families and community preschool programs and there have been more than 50 family events to connect families with their students’ learning. Also, more than 11,000 educators benefitted from nearly 500 professional development sessions.

Districts also shared their LiNK successes during the first year of implementation. Staff members from Olathe Unified School District 233 shared information about the district’s gain in kindergarten readiness language proficiency as a result of professional learning and collaboration with early childhood communities. Dodge City USD 443 staff members shared experiences with organizing a systematic approach to job embedded professional learning and connecting the pieces between families, community, accreditation goals and alignment to systems of support structures.

The Special Education Advisory Council presented its annual report to the board. Council leadership shared highlights of the report and discussed upcoming topics.
Bert Moore, director for KSDE’s Special Education and Title Services team, talked about the purpose of SEAC, which is to advise the state education agency of unmet needs within the state in the education of children and youth with exceptionalities.

SEAC’s annual report covered July 1, 2018, through June 30, 2019. During that time frame, there were several accomplishments under the leadership of Mike Martin, SEAC chairman. SEAC members took part in the selection of a new state director of special education; served as members of the statewide task force set up by the 2015 Kansas Legislature to study issues directly related to Emergency Safety Interventions; collaborated with other stakeholders to support Senate Bill 323, which made specific recommendations for language acquisition and language assessment for students who are deaf or hard of hearing; and provided feedback to KSDE’s SETS team on a variety of topics.

SEAC also reviewed transition regulations to ensure that all students with disabilities have transition goals and assessment initiated no later than the students’ 14th birthday and discussed dyslexia as an area of concern to ensure that students diagnosed with dyslexia are receiving appropriate educational supports and services.

Looking forward, SEAC plans to continue to work on ESI; receive and provide response to KSDE’s work on dyslexia; receive and respond to the recommendations of the Transition Task Force; continue discussion and provide recommendations on a request to change the Emotionally Disturbed label; and receive and respond to the work involved in the vocational rehabilitation agreement and the support of students with disabilities entering the workplace.

Catherine Chmidling, an education program consultant for KSDE’s Teacher Licensure and Accreditation (TLA) team, presented higher education preparation program standards for Health Education preK-12 and Physical Education preK-12.

Representatives from the standards revision committees – Sunnin Keosybounheuang, an assistant professor at Emporia State University, and Verneda Edwards, an associate professor at Baker University – reviewed the higher education program standards with board members.

The standards are scheduled to come before the board for approval in February.

Amanda Petersen, KSDE’s director of Early Childhood, gave board members an update on work to strengthen the Kansas early childhood system.

KSDE is partnering with the Kansas Children’s Cabinet and Trust Fund, the Kansas Department for Children and Families, the Kansas Department of Health and Environment and others are engaging in five activities:

  • Develop a comprehensive statewide early childhood needs assessment.
  • Develop a comprehensive statewide early childhood strategic plan.
  • Maximize parental choice and knowledge.
  • Share best practices.
  • Improve overall quality.

Funding for these activities is provided by a planning grant authorized by the federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA).

More than 6,000 Kansans shared feedback in 2019 to inform the needs assessment, Petersen said. The needs assessment is scheduled to be released in February. Key findings from the needs assessment include:

  • Accessibility – Families with young children experience inequitable access to high-quality programs and services across the broader early childhood system.
  • Availability – Families with young children experience a gap between the services that are available and their actual needs, especially among underserved populations.
  • Navigation – Families must adopt a “connect the dots” approach to navigate services across sectors.
  • Collaboration and integration – Early childhood providers and stakeholders share a desire for collaboration and cooperation but these often remain disconnected and uncoordinated.
  • Workforce – Early childhood workforce needs at leadership and direct service levels include preparation, compensation/financial relief, ongoing training and support, recruitment and retention.
  • Facilities – Needs exist related to the physical condition and environments of early childhood facilities across the state.
  • Systems alignment – Greater systems alignment is needed in order to fully realize an efficient and robust early childhood care and education infrastructure.
  • Bright spots – Efficient, innovative, responsive efforts are occurring amongst early care and education system partners in communities throughout the state.

Scott Gordon, KSDE’s general counsel, talked to board members about proposed new language for Kansas Education Systems Accreditation (KESA) regulations K.A.R. 91-31-31 through 91-31-44. The board last voted to amend the accreditation regulations in September 2017. Since that time, substantive changes have come to light that require further approval by the State Board before proceeding through the formal adoption process.

The changes are slated to be voted on in February.

Deputy Commissioner Dale Dennis discussed legislative matters with the State Board.

Dr. Mary LeFebvre, principal research scientist for ACT State and Federal Policy, provided board members an overview of the Condition of Career Pathways Readiness in the United States 2019 report. She included breakouts for Kansas students.

ACT is recommending that other states do what Kansas is doing for its students by offering the ACT and ACT WorkKeys assessments for free, LeFebvre said.

Patty Ferrel, lead program manager, state partnerships for ACT, shared reporting enhancements for the Kansas ACT WorkKeys. Soon, districts and schools will be able to go into a report portal and print off National Career Readiness Certificate (NCRC) certificates for their students. Before this enhancement, districts weren’t able to pull certificate information directly and students had to create and access a MyWorkKeys account to print their certificates, Ferrel said.

State-elected leaders from Career and Technical Student Organizations (CTSOs) gave board members short presentations on their organizations. Students who presented were from Business Professionals of America (BPA); DECA; Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA); Family, Career and Community Leaders of America (FCCLA); FFA; Health Occupation Students of America (HOSA); SkillsUSA; and Technology Student Association (TSA).

Cory Gibson, the superintendent of Valley Center USD 262 who was named the 2020 Kansas Superintendent of the Year by the Kansas School Superintendents Association, was recognized by the State Board of Education.

Stacy Smith, assistant director for KSDEs Career, Standards and Assessment Services (CSAS) team, and Connie Beene, with the Kansas Board of Regents, presented the finalized state plan for the implementation of the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act (Perkins V).

The act reauthorizes the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act of 2006 (Perkins IV). The new four-year state plan will be submitted to the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Career, Adult and Technical Education, in April 2020.

During the past year, the Kansas Perkins V State team has worked to implement the new legislation, which culminates with a new state plan.

The new state plan builds on the existing collaboration between secondary and postsecondary education with enhanced focus on workforce partners and the expansion of existing programs and services.

Key activities in the Kansas state plan for CTE include:

  • Work-based learning opportunities.
  • Secondary/postsecondary program and pathway alignment.
  • Continual engagement with stakeholders.
  • Enhanced advisory committee participation.
  • Access and equity for all students.
  • High-quality, affordable CTE for all learners.
  • Increased focus/awareness of careers in CTE.
  • Academic integration with CTE.
  • Incentivizing innovation and performance.
  • Local needs assessment driving expenditures.

State Board of Education members accepted the Gemini I and Gemini II schools’ redesign plans for the 2019-2020 school year. Schools included Burrton K-12 School, Burrton USD 369 (Gemini I); Halstead-Bentley Primary School, Halstead-Bentley USD 440 (Gemini II); and Rolla K-12 School, Rolla USD 217 (Gemini I).

These schools applied to be a part of the Kansans Can School Redesign Project during the Gemini phase, and upon acceptance, were given the option of planning for one or two years to launch. The schools had their redesign launch plans approved by a launch readiness committee in the fall of 2019. The schools also have been approved by their local boards of education to launch in 2019-2020.

Stafford K-12 School (Gemini I) is planning to present its redesign launch plans to a launch readiness committee soon and will then take the plans to the USD 349 board of education for approval in February. Pending Stafford’s local board approval, it is anticipated that the Stafford K-12 School’s redesign launch plan will be presented to the State Board for consideration in July 2020.

The board adopted a resolution establishing the 2020 calendar of board meeting dates, time and location. Meetings are conducted the second Tuesday and Wednesday of the month. An exception occurs in November 2020, when a one-day meeting is planned to avoid conflict with Veteran’s Day, which is a state holiday.


 

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