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Kansas State Board of Education: March highlights

Posted: Mar 16, 2018
Author: Ann Bush

KSDE working on developing computer science standards

The Kansas State Department of Education (KSDE) is working toward establishing model College and Career Ready standards for computer science and plans to have the standards ready for board approval by March 2019, said Stephen King, a KSDE education consultant.

King presented to board members Wednesday, March 14, the second day of a two-day meeting in Topeka. KSDE is launching a committee-based model standards development process for computer science, King told the board. The committee will utilize standards and frameworks that already have been developed, he said. The standards will be customized to the board’s vision — Kansas leads the world in the success of each student.

The committee will have a membership of 24 to 28 people and will be formed between March and May, with the first committee meeting taking place in June, King said. The committee will be comprised of four to six business and industry representatives, two to four postsecondary education representatives and representatives from all grade bands.

The first draft of standards will be developed in June and July with public feedback collected in July and August, King said. A second draft will be developed in September and October with public feedback collected in October through December. The final draft will be created in January 2019 and presented to the State Board of Education for input in February 2019. It is scheduled to go before the board for final approval in March 2019.

During the first day of the meeting, Tuesday, March 13, Kansas Commissioner of Education Dr. Randy Watson gave Board of Education members an update on the agency audit and the creation of the Governor’s Education Council.

Watson, who is co-chairing the Education Council with Blake Flanders, president and CEO of the Kansas Board of Regents, said the council will be formed as soon as possible because there are some issues he and Flanders want to tackle. Two representatives of the State Board of Education, who will be selected at a later date, will serve on the council.

Watson also updated board members on the “First 15 Credits,” which would begin in the fall of 2018 if the school finance plan passes through the Legislature. Juniors and seniors, beginning in the fall of 2018, would be able to take one college general education class for free. The first class would be English Comp 1. Other general education classes would follow, such as speech, general psychology, U.S. history and college algebra. Every school district would have to participate in the program. However, community colleges can opt out of offering the classes for free.
Board members had a discussion on student safety in Kansas schools. They talked about the school safety hotline campaign the Kansas State Department of Education created in partnership with the Kansas Highway Patrol. The posters are still in schools and ads appear in movie theaters across the state.

House Bill No. 2773 calls for creating the Kansas safe and secure schools act. Under this bill, Watson told board members he requested $300,000 to employ two people who would review and evaluate school safety and security plans and provide technical assistance to school districts. 

Louanne Barron, interim superintendent of the Kansas State School for the Deaf, and Jon Harding, interim superintendent of the Kansas State School for the Blind, gave updates.

Board members approved three KSSD positions — two blended-learning instructors and a family and community engagement facilitator. 

Harding then gave an update on what KSSB is doing to expand collaboration with cooperatives, interlocals and higher education.

The school is improving communication channels by expanding social media, creating a new website and hosting a regional professional development day. KSSB is also reaching out regularly to superintendents, KSDE, cooperatives and service centers, and special education directors, Harding said.

Shelley Staples, an Olathe East High School teacher, and students from the Future Educators Academy (FEA) at Olathe East, Olathe Unified School District 233, shared about the program. Olathe USD 233 offers numerous 21st Century Academies for its students. One of these is FEA, which is a four-year program that started in August 2017. FEA helps foster interest in the teaching profession.

The board voted to approve amendments to licensure regulations that will be sent to the Department of Administration and the Kansas Attorney General’s Office for review. The amendments included clarification and updating of terms and building in additional license options and new endorsement areas, which provide some additional flexibility. After the review, the State Board will set a public hearing date for comments on the proposed regulations.

Deputy Commissioner Brad Neuenswander gave the board an update on the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). The three ESSA accountability goals are, by the year 2030:
•    Have 75 percent of assessed students achieve an academic performance level of three or four on state assessments in English Language Arts and math.
•    Have 95 percent of students graduate from high school (based on the four-year adjusted cohort).
•    Have 95 percent of English Language Learners show progress toward proficiency on the KELPA2.

The baseline year that will be used is 2017, Neuenswander said.

ESSA accountability indicators will be measured and reported annually.

Applicable indicators for grades three through eight are academic proficiency (percentage of students scoring a three or four on assessment); gap (difference between a subgroup and their nonsubgroup peers); EL proficiency (percentage of students showing progress); and student success (reducing the percentage of students in the lower performance level).

Applicable indicators for high schools are academic proficiency, graduation, English language proficiency and student success.

Schools can be identified as needing Comprehensive Support and Improvement, and schools with consistently underperforming subgroups can be identified for Targeted Support and Improvement. Assistance to the schools will be provided by the Kansas Learning Network.

Jay Scott, secondary redesign specialist, and Tammy Mitchell, elementary redesign specialist, gave board members an update on the Kansans Can School Redesign project. After two months of piloting programs, Mercury elementary schools are reporting significantly fewer absences, fewer behavior referrals and gains in reading and math skills.

Scott talked to the board about a trip that he and Mercury secondary schools took to Innovations School in Salt Lake City. There are 430 students at Innovations and 10 staff members.

Jeannette Nobo during the Wednesday morning session spoke to board members about the Kansas Education Systems Accreditation (KESA). The districts will be accredited using a staggered system. Two public systems and five private systems are scheduled for accreditation consideration in coming months. Those districts have to have their Outside Visitation Team visit completed by April 15, Nobo said.

The Accreditation Advisory Committee (AAC) has met three times, Nobo said. They have discussed guidance for KESA regulations, applications, accreditation criteria, evidence for KESA rubrics and resource documents.

The Accreditation Review Council (ARC) also has met three times. There are 16 members, and they include teachers, superintendents, principals, higher education professors, human resource representatives and others. Discussion topics have included understanding the KESA model, expectations for accreditation recommendations and criteria for accreditation. The next accreditation meeting will take place May 2, Nobo said.

The ARC will make a recommendation to the State Board regarding accreditation. However, the State Board will make the final decision. The first recommendations could go before the board for action in June, Nobo said.

The board will have three determinations to consider when making a final decision: accredited, conditionally accredited and not accredited.

The board also:
•    Approved Deena Horst as the State Board of Education representative on the Kansas State High School Activities Association board of directors. Kathy Busch will serve on the KSHSAA executive board effective July 1.
•    Discussed a Senate bill that Deputy Commissioner Dale Dennis spoke about Tuesday afternoon. Senate Bill 424 would establish the office of the education inspector general under the jurisdiction of the State Treasurer for the purpose of monitoring KSDE and school districts. The bill was up for a hearing and discussion on Thursday, March 15. The board agreed to have legislative liaison and board member Jim McNiece speak in opposition of the bill.

The board will meet next on April 17 at the Landon State Office Building, 900 S.W. Jackson. The board will travel on Wednesday, April 18, to Olathe to visit the Kansas State School for the Deaf and to Kansas City, Kansas, to visit the Kansas State School for the Blind.


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