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Kansas State Board of Education March 2019 highlights: Blue Ribbon Task Force on Bullying created

Posted: Mar 15, 2019
Author: Ann Bush

A Blue Ribbon Task Force on Bullying has been created to address school bullying, Kansas Commissioner of Education Dr. Randy Watson announced to the Kansas State Board of Education during its March meeting.

The task force will be co- chaired by Dr. Rick Ginsberg, dean of School of Education at the University of Kansas, and James Reiger, superintendent of Whitewater-Remington Unified School District 206.

Parents, students, State Board of Education members, legislators, practitioners and experts on the subject will be included on the task force. The group will travel across the state to hear testimony, Watson said. The work will start in April 2019, and the group will report back to the State Board of Education in December 2019. The task force, which is strictly voluntary, will recommend regulations, policies and trainings.

State Board of Education members approved the submittal of amended Emergency Safety Intervention (ESI) regulations to the Department of Administration and the Office of Attorney General for review.

KSDE’s Laura Jurgensen, assistant director of Special Education and Title Services (SETS), discussed the proposed ESI regulations with board members.

In November 2018, the Special Education Advisory Council (SEAC) took action requesting the State Board chair and State Board-SEAC liaison work with the Technical Assistance System Network (TASN) and other stakeholders to clarify the definition of seclusion within the ESI regulations. The stakeholder group agreed upon proposed changes to the definition of seclusion, and SEAC approved these changes at the January 2019 meeting. KSDE staff members presented the proposed changes to these regulations to the State Board for review at the February 2019 meeting.

The board also approved recommended changes to the requirements for paraprofessionals to become highly qualified paraprofessionals.

KSDE’s Colleen Riley, director of SETS, discussed the changes with the board. The Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) as reauthorized by the Every Student Succeeds ACT (ESSA) requires the state of Kansas to have in place requirements for paraprofessionals to be highly qualified to be paid with Title I funds.

KSDE’s Dr. Stephen King led the board through the Kansas model standards for computer science. In March 2018, KSDE brought together a committee of teachers from all grade levels, representatives of business and industry, the military and postsecondary education agencies to draft model kindergarten through grade 12 computer science standards for Kansas. The committee determined a need to increase that age range to pre-kindergarten to grade 12.

The committee began drafting Kansas’ computer science standards from existing national standards and frameworks. There were six different road shows held across the state to discuss the standards.

KSDE’s Myron Melton, an education program consultant, and representatives from several professional organizations – including the Kansas School Counselor Association, the School Social Workers Association and the School Psychologists Association – gave board members an overview of social-emotional growth, one of the state-level outcomes for the vision.

Discussion included the role of school counselors in social-emotional growth of student. School counselors are licensed educators who contribute to the success of all students by implementing a comprehensive school counseling program. The ratio of students to school counselors is 468 students to one school counselor. It is recommended that it be 250 students to one school counselor, according to the American School Counselor Association (ASCA).

The group recommended that it be mandated for pre-K-12 licensed school counselors to implement comprehensive standards-based counseling programs for all students in all schools in Kansas. The group also recommended advocating and providing resources to reduce the student to school counselor ratio with a goal of one school counselor for 250 students.

Other recommendations included:

  • For accreditation school counselors spend about 80 percent of their time in direct services with and indirect services for students by ASCA.
  • Support the development of programs to increase the number of professional school counselors in Kansas. Examples would include Grow Your Own programs; waivers for program candidates; loan forgiveness; and clarification on the directions of the Teacher Shortage Survey.
  • Clarify in the statute the definition of teacher to include school counselor.

Craig Hidy, representing the Kansas School Social Workers Association, also presented on social-emotional growth to State Board of Education members. During the 2018-2019 school year, the state of Kansas added 90 new school social workers, raising the number statewide to 589, Hidy said. Forty of those new employees were a result of the new School Mental Health Pilot Program. However, Hidy said, Kansas is still significantly underserved compared to the nationally recommended social worker to student ratio of 1 to 250.

Jessica Mefford, a school psychologist representing the Kansas Association of School Psychologists, discussed the role of school psychologists in social-emotional growth. School psychologists apply expertise in mental health, learning and behavior to help children and youth succeed academically, socially, behaviorally and emotionally. The current state ratio, which is similar to the national ratio, is one school psychologist for every 1,380 students. The recommended ratio is one school psychologist for every 500 to 700 students, Mefford said.

Jennifer Montgomery, director for human trafficking education and outreach with the Kansas Attorney General’s Office, gave board members a presentation on human trafficking education and outreach in Kansas.

Human trafficking is based on recruiting, harboring and/or transporting people solely for the purpose of exploitation. It includes labor trafficking and sex trafficking. Human trafficking is a modern form of slavery. Trafficking is not the same as smuggling, but they overlap. Human trafficking is a crime against a person, and alien smuggling is a crime against borders, Montgomery said.

More than 80 percent of human trafficking involves domestic victims and the majority of these are children. In Kansas, the state is centrally located and there are intersections of major federal instatements. The state also is a hub of Midwestern commerce and there are opportunities for exchange points. The common age for victims is between 14 and 16. They are found on social networks, clubs or bars, the Internet and schools.

The State Board of Education recognized Linda Dishman, the 2018 Milken Educator Award recipient. Dishman is a teacher at Berryton Elementary School, Shawnee Heights USD 450. She received an unrestricted cash award of $25,000. Dishman helped implement conceptual mathematics instruction, balanced literacy and growth mindset development. She took a leadership role in developing performance assessments for the district, presenting professional development and collaborating with grade-level teams as they developed tasks and rubrics.

The Milken Family Foundation, in cooperation with KSDE, sponsors the Milken Educator Award program in Kansas, which alternates between elementary school educators and secondary school educators. The award recognizes teachers and principals who have made and continue to make significant contributions to the education of children.

KSDE’s Stacy Smith, assistant director of Career, Standards and Assessment Services (CSAS), and Connie Beene, senior director of the Kansas Board of Regents (KBOR), updated board members on the federal Strengthening Career and Technical Education (CTE) Act (Perkins V) transition plan. The federal grant supports state efforts for approved pathways in CTE. KSDE and KBOR developed a transition plan to be implemented for the 2019-2020 school year creating seamless pathways for workplace learning. The two agencies will work together to develop the new five-year state plan for implementation in 2020-2021.

Deputy Commissioner Dale Dennis gave board members an update on legislative bills.

State Board of Education members met on Wednesday, March 13, at the Kansas State High School Activities Association for a work retreat. Board members discussed where the state was with the vision, where it is currently and where it is headed in the future.

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