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Kansas State Board of Education June highlights: Board approves four systems for accreditation

Posted: Jun 12, 2020
Author: Ann Bush

The Kansas State Board of Education at its June meeting approved the recommendations of the Accreditation Review Council (ARC) and awarded accreditation to Wichita Unified School District 259; Solomon USD 393; Eudora USD 491; and the Kansas School for the Deaf.

The board met virtually Tuesday, June 9, and Wednesday, June 10.

The State Board approved the Kansas Education Systems Accreditation (KESA) model in 2016. KESA shifts accreditation from schools to the district/system level and moves accreditation from a yearly event to a five-year improvement model approach.

During the 2019-2020 school year, there were 29 systems scheduled for accreditation. Because of COVID-19, not all systems were able to complete the process. Therefore, the systems were given until the end of October 2020 to complete everything.

In April, ARC reviewed the documentation of six systems, both public and private, for the purpose of determining an accreditation recommendation. Once ARC reviews the documents, data and reports, it forwards executive summaries to the State Board with a recommendation of accredited, conditionally accredited or not accredited.

Of the six systems reviewed in April, ARC needed additional time for discussion and review for one public and one private system. Those two systems, along with seven others (five public, one special purpose and one private) will be presented to State Board members in July for initial review.

The executive summaries and ARC recommendations for four systems were shared with board members for review at the May State Board of Education meeting.

Janet Waugh, vice chair of the Kansas State Board of Education, read a statement in response to the death of George Floyd. It was a joint statement from Waugh and Board Chair Kathy Busch.

Luanne Barron, superintendent of the Kansas School for the Deaf, gave Board of Education members an update on activities and initiatives at the school.

Barron discussed the school’s back-to-school plan and challenges and successes the school faced during the COVID-19 pandemic. Barron said there are two plans in place for the fall of 2020 – one plan in case virtual learning continues and another plan if students return to campus.

The school’s class of 2020 had two meetings with administrators and staff members and requested an in-person graduation. After speaking with the proper authorities, it was determined that the school can have an in-person ceremony at 10 a.m. June 22. Only 90 people will be allowed in the school’s gym for the event, and families will be asked to sit together if possible. Masks also will be available for those in attendance.

Jon Harding, superintendent of the Kansas State School for the Blind, gave an update about the School for the Blind.

The school expanded classes to blind and visually impaired students across the state during the COVID-19 pandemic, Harding said. He also gave updates on the school’s Extended School Year program; fall reopening plans; and progress on the school’s goals.

State Board of Education members reappointed Dr. Chelle Kemper and Laura Thompson to a second term on the Special Education Advisory Council. The board also acted to appoint Jennifer Kucinski, Trisha Beckman, Amy Zimmerman, Marvin Miller and Jennifer Kurth to the council, with their terms effective July 1, 2020, through June 30, 2023.

The mission of SEAC is to work collaboratively to provide leadership for continuous improvement of education systems to ensure equity and enhance learning for all students in Kansas. The roles of representation of SEAC are established in the Individuals with Disabilities Education ACT (IDEA) and Kansas statute.

Tabatha Rosproy, the 2020 National Teacher of the Year, was recognized by board members. Rosproy is an early childhood educator from Winfield and the 2020 Kansas Teacher of the Year.

Rosproy said she is looking forward to continuing her advocacy for early childhood education and social-emotional education as she begins her stint as the 2020 National Teacher of the Year.

When Rosproy was notified that she was the 2020 National Teacher of the Year, she thought, “I’m just a preschool teacher from Kansas. What can I bring to the table?” Now, she is proud to represent Kansas, especially at this time when the nation needs to hear the voices of educators, she said.

Board members approved the new educator preparation program standards for building and district leadership, pre-K-12.

Educator preparation program standards establish requirements to ensure that preparation programs in Kansas provide educator candidates with the knowledge and skills educators need for today’s learning context. Institutions of higher learning utilize program standards to develop their preparation program and submit them for approval. They also use the standards for continuous monitoring and improvement of their programs and to establish professional learning requirements for licensure renewal.

Dr. Catherine Chmidling, an education program consultant/higher education for the Teacher Licensure and Accreditation (TLA), and Mischel Miller, director of TLA, answered board members’ questions.

Deputy Commissioner Dale Dennis gave the board an update on the Mental Health Intervention Team Program. Representatives from two schools – Kimberly Knight, Leavenworth USD 453, and Emily Henderson, Wabaunsee County USD 329 – shared their districts’ stories.

Knight said teachers and administrators started looking at the program as a resource for students to help them become more successful. The program helps remove the barriers of providing students mental health services. The program has helped prevent suicide, prevented suspensions and has helped students deal with trauma, Knight said.

“I’m so proud of our state for taking this on,” she said. “We have seen nothing but great things come out of it.”

In Wabaunsee County USD 329, the Mental Health Intervention Team provides access to care in the rural community, Henderson told the board. The team serves five buildings. It is helping save lives and reducing expulsions in the district, according to Henderson.

KSDE’s Myron Melton, a consultant with the Special Education and Title Services (SETS) team, gave board members an update on the work of the School Mental Health Advisory Council, which included progress of the work in response to the Bullying Task Force recommendations.

The Kansas School Mental Health Advisory Council was formed by the State Board of Education at its July 2017 meeting. There are about 40 council members, including representatives from state and local organizations and the health care field; social workers; school employees; parents; and legislators.

KSDE’s Stacy Smith, assistant director of Career, Standards and Assessment Services, gave a report on the Work-Based Learning Pilot. The pilot established one intermediary network in each of the five workforce regions.

The network included one regional workforce center or local workforce board, community and/or technical colleges in each region and one school district or cohort of districts within each of the five workforce regions. The five pilot districts or cohort of districts will serve as models for other school districts in the region to scale high-quality, work-based learning utilizing a regional intermediary, and forming an alignment to develop a statewide system.

The pilot schools will disseminate and present information and artifacts to Kansas school districts following the pilot project.

WBL pilot districts include Hugoton USD 210, Manhattan USD 383, De Soto USD 232, Circle USD 375, Iola USD 257 and Chanute USD 413.

Bob Kreutzer, the co-chair of the Governor's Education Council Work-Based Coordinating Committee, and Jack Frederick, chair of the Kansas Advisory Council for Career and Technical Education (KACCTE), shared their thoughts and experiences about the pilot.

Deputy Commissioner Dr. Brad Neuenswander introduced Dr. John Burke, superintendent for Haysville USD 261, to speak about a research-based activity/recess program that will be implemented in the district’s elementary schools during the upcoming 2020-2021 school year.

The district will offer four, 15-minute recess opportunities during the elementary school day. The district would like all four recess times to count toward instruction because the district thinks it will be providing the best possible learning environment for students through increased physical activity, social opportunities and social-emotional lessons.

The district developed the acronym RECESS, which stands for Recreation, Engagement, Communication, Exploration, Social-Emotional and Success, said Jennifer Reed, Haysville USD 261’s assistant superintendent for learning services.

During the first year of implementation (2020-2021), students in kindergarten through first grade will be given four, 15-minute recesses daily, one after every 45-minute to one-hour block of instruction. Recess will be linked to instructional time.

Students will go outside for recess, weather permitting. There will be no equipment (balls, jump ropes, etc.) allowed during recess. Two recesses will allow access to playground equipment, and two recesses won’t allow access to playground equipment.

Additional grades will receive the four, 15-minute recesses in coming years.

Haysville hopes the additional recesses will offer:

  • Increased attention during instruction.
  • Improved academics.
  • Improved social-emotional skills.
  • Increased health benefits for students.
  • Improved focus.
  • Decreased office discipline referrals.

Deputy Commissioner Neuenswander kicked off the second day of the June meeting with an update to board members about guidelines that are being developed for Kansas schools for the upcoming 2020-2021 school year in the event of another disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

An Instructional Team, comprised of about 110 people, is working on developing multiple possibilities of learning opportunities, including the options to move toward a competency-based education and assessment model broken into grade bands and organized by content areas.

Dr. Craig Neuenswander, director of KSDE’s School Finance team, joined Brad Neuenswander to discuss the Operations Committee Team, which is comprised of about 80 people. The Operations Team is working on guidance on how to reopen schools safely – including sanitation, social distancing, busing and food service.

Deputy Commissioner Dennis and Craig Neuenswander updated the board on action taken by the 2020 Kansas Legislature during sine die on May 21, 2020. They also discussed the fiscal year 2022 budget options.

The final budget recommendations are scheduled to be approved at the July meeting. This will allow KSDE staff members adequate time to prepare the agency budget for submittal to the Division of the Budget on or before Sept. 15, 2020.

The next meeting will take place July 14-15.

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