Computer science can now be counted as a core math or science credit toward high school graduation.
The Kansas State Board of Education voted to approve the recommendation Tuesday, June 8, during its monthly meeting in Topeka.
Before the decision, Kansas was only one of two states that counted computer science courses as an elective, but not as a core math, science or other core discipline credit. Now after the State Board’s vote, local school boards can substitute one unit of computer science for either one unit of science or math as long as the student meets the math and science concepts required in regulations and the school district allows it.
Kansas graduation requirements include a minimum of 21 units of credit, including four English language arts units; three history, government and social studies units; three math units; three science units; one physical education unit; one unit of fine arts; and six units of elective courses.
The State Board in February 2020 received five recommendations brought forth from the Computer Science Education Implementation Task Force. One of those recommendations included allowing computer science to be counted as a core math or science credit.
The approval of the recommendation doesn’t change the minimum 21 credits required for graduation, and it doesn’t make computer science a required course for graduation.
Kansas Commissioner of Education Dr. Randy Watson discussed the establishment of a graduation requirement task force with the Kansas State Board of Education.
The purpose of the task force is to examine graduation requirements in Kansas from at least three different lenses:
Additional courses or deletion of courses required for graduation (if any).
Examination of competencies and multiple ways to show mastery of skills which allow students to move at their own pace and time.
Examination of any additional requirements to the high school diploma.
The task force will be chaired by Jim McNiece, a member of the State Board, and will be comprised of business leaders, curriculum directors, high school principals, high school counselors, high school teachers, local board members, superintendents, State Board of Education members and Kansas State High School Athletic Association (KSHSAA) employees.
Cindy Hadicke, an elementary education program consultant on the Career, Standards and Assessment Services team for the Kansas State Department of Education (KSDE), gave the board an update on dyslexia initiatives happening in the state.
The State Board of Education in November 2020 approved recommendations of the KSDE Dyslexia Committee. The purpose of the committee was to evaluate recommendations of the Legislative Task Force on Dyslexia, which was created in 2018. Initiatives target several areas, including educator training and professional development (both for preservice teachers and current teachers); screening and evaluation processes; evidence-based reading instruction; structured literacy framework; and reading intervention.
State Board members accepted recommendations to change the accreditation status of Paola Unified School District 368 and Our Lady of Unit from conditionally accredited to accredited.
Mischel Miller, director of Teacher Licensure and Accreditation (TLA) for KSDE, and Jeannette Nobo, assistant director of TLA, led discussion on the systems.
In accordance with the Kansas Educational Systems Accreditation (KESA) process, a system that has been conditionally accredited by the State Board of Education can be brought back to change its accreditation status from conditionally accredited to accredited provided that the areas identified for improvement by the Accreditation Review Council (ARC) are satisfactorily completed.
Paola USD 368 was granted a conditionally accredited status by the State Board at its September 2020 meeting. Paola has been working to satisfy the areas of improvement outlined in their accreditation report by the ARC, Miller said.
Our Lady of Unity in Kansas City was granted a conditionally accredited status by the State Board at its February 2021 meeting. The system worked in collaboration with its diocese and building team members to satisfy the areas of improvement stipulated in their accreditation report by the ARC, Nobo said.
Members of the ARC met April 21, 2021, to review the documentation submitted by both systems, and upon review, determined that both systems had satisfactorily completed all areas identified for improvement. The ARC determined that the work completed by both systems was sufficient.
State Board members also received an ARC recommendation to accredit Remington-Whitewater USD 206.
During the 2020-2021 school year, there were 39 systems scheduled to receive an accreditation status recommendation. Twenty-five are public systems, and 14 are private systems. The ARC does reviews monthly from April through July. During April, the ARC completed the system review of Remington-Whitewater.
The State Board is slated to act on the accreditation recommendation at its July meeting.
The State Board on Tuesday, June 8, received public school expenditure plans for Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) II federal COVID-19 relief funds.
Federal assistance to schools has been made available through the ESSER fund and the Emergency Assistance to Non-Public Schools (EANS) fund. The federal law outlines allowable expenditures directly related to the COVID-19 pandemic and to support student learning and student needs associated with the pandemic.
Watson convened the Commissioner’s Task Force on ESSER and EANS Distribution of Money to provide guidance and oversight of school districts’ plans (public and private) for expenditure of those federal funds to meet the needs of Kansas students as created by the pandemic.
The task force and KSDE staff members are reviewing the applications and expenditure plans to evaluate whether the requests are tied to a pandemic-related need, are reasonable and meet the allowable uses. The information is then presented to the State Board of Education for approval.
On Wednesday, June 9, the State Board accepted the recommendations of the task force and approved the submission of school district expenditure plans for ESSER II federal COVID-19 relief funds as presented.
The Board reappointed Heath Peine and Jennifer King to a second three-year term on the Special Education Advisory Council for the period July 2021-June 2024.
State Board members reappointed Cameron Carlson, Jamie Finkeldei and Shana Steinlage to a second term and voted to appoint Trevor Goertzen, Barbra Gonzales, Jori Nelson, Jill Bergerhofer, Dr. Rena Duewel and Michael Reed to the Professional Standards Board with their terms effective July 1, 2021, through June 30, 2024.
The State Board acted to continue its previously declared time of emergency whereby any person with a five-year substitute teaching license or an emergency substitute teaching license with a baccalaureate degree may teach through June 30, 2022.
Because of the continued effect of the COVID-19 pandemic and the reduction in supply of willing and available licensed teachers, Kansas school systems have asked to be provided more flexibility than standard law allows regarding the use of substitute teachers. Current law allows for the State Board to declare a time of emergency. KSDE asked the State Board to continue the declaration to increase the available number of days a substitute teacher may teach in any one position.
Students who recently participated in the Kansas Entrepreneurship Challenge, which is a mock statewide youth entrepreneurship challenge, gave presentations to State Board members. KSDE’s Natalie Clark, an education program consultant for KSDE’s CSAS team, introduced the middle and high school finalists from the challenge.
The competition is for ventures that are created, managed and owned by students. The challenge is sponsored by the Kansas Masonic Foundation in partnership with Kansas State University and the Network Kansas Youth Entrepreneurship Challenge Series. The goal of the challenge is to promote entrepreneurship and small business development in Kansas.
Amara Kniep with Network Kansas, gave a brief overview of the Youth Entrepreneurship Challenge and the State Entrepreneurship Challenge.
The students, along with their schools and the businesses they own, who gave presentations were:
Carolina Barraza, of Pike Valley USD 426, Wonderfully Made (earrings).
Mason Bettles, of Salina South USD 305, Bettles’ Mobile Care Detailing.
Cooper Frack, of Norton USD 211, Frack Sweet Scents (wax melts).
Jaelyn Rumback, of Norton USD 211, Beauty by Jae (sugar scrubs and body butter).
The board approved the inclusion of a new section to bylaw XII of the Kansas State High School Activities Association (KSHSAA) handbook. In April 2021, the KSHSAA board of directors approved an initial step in amending the system of postseason classification for member high schools. The proposal sought to establish a three-year waiting period before the system of classification can be amended after a change in that system is approved.
The KSHSAA board voted 64-5 in favor of adding the following language to the handbook relative to classification: Amendments to general classification shall not be subject to revision for the first three school years following initial application.
This modification is a component of the KSHSAA handbook bylaws, so it is necessary to have approval from the KSHSAA board of directors and the State Board of Education.
Deputy Commissioner Craig Neuenswander led discussion on budget options and budget recommendations for education state aid programs. The budget has been set for fiscal year 2022, so the discussion focused on fiscal year 2023.
The State Board is anticipated to act on final budget recommendations at the July meeting.
State Board of Education members had a working lunch to discuss the board’s constitutional authority as it relates to legislative priorities from the past session, potential topics for the next session, and options for addressing legislative activity/inactivity on education-related topics.
The next meeting will take place July 13-14 in Topeka.
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