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Kansas State Board of Education May highlights

Posted: May 23, 2019
Author: Ann Bush

Cheryl Johnson, director of KSDE’s Child Nutrition and Wellness team, and school food service directors from across Kansas discussed the Farm to Plate program with State Board members.

Barb Depew, a KSDE employee, shared 2019 Farm to Plate goals and strategies. Child Nutrition Program sponsors will serve two local foods in their programs at least once per month, Depew said. There is a work group made up of producers, sponsors and partners that meets at least three times per year.

Food service directors, agriculture departments and other groups from across the state shared what they are doing with Farm to Plate.

Amy Droegemeier, director of nutrition services from Gardner Edgerton Unified School District 231, said the district’s focus is on providing opportunities to students in regular intervals: seasonal menu planning through their Garden Bar; Harvest of the Month; and a veggie-focused deli salad weekly at the high school. Gardner Edgerton has partnerships with local growers, and Kansas City Food Hub was one of the district’s first institutional partners.

For Harvest of the Month, Gardner Edgerton focuses on one fruit or vegetable group per month. For example, the district highlighted melon in August and root vegetables in September. This gives students a chance to try a familiar item in new ways, such as roasted pears, or something completely new, like butternut squash.

Students from Wildcat Farms, a self-sustainable school farm at North Lyon County USD 251, said the farm has steers and roosters, along with raised beds for vegetables and a hydroponics and aquaponics systems.

Students from Pike Valley High School’s Panther Producers said individuals in the community can donate money or an actual animal to the program. All animal donations must meet program criteria and inspection before acceptance. The Panther Producers works with Pike Valley’s FFA, the district, local producers, community members and businesses.

Jennie Lazarus, outdoor education coordinator for Lawrence USD 497, and Lindsey Morgan, a registered dietician and supervisor of nutrition and wellness for the district, shared about Lawrence’s Farm to School Program. It was a grassroots initiative that started in 2010 and was established districtwide in 2014. There are 15 school gardens across the district that reach 75 percent of the student population, and Lawrence USD 497 purchased more than 27 tons of local produce during the 2017-2018 school year.

Mischel Miller, director of KSDE’s Teacher Licensure and Accreditation team, said the TLA team has conducted regional trainings across the state, made support calls and hosted Zoom meetings with districts going through the Kansas Education Systems Accreditation (KESA) process. She also shared information about the Accreditation Advisory Council (AAC) and the Accreditation Review Council (ARC). The AAC has met three times so far this year, and the ARC has met four times this year so far.

In July, there will be eight public systems and 14 private systems that will seek accreditation from the State Board. The State Board is slated to take action on the systems at the August board meeting.

In 2018, there were two public systems and five private systems that were up for accreditation. There are 15 public school systems and 18 private systems in Year 3 of the process. There are 62 public systems and 13 private systems in Year 2 of the process, and there are 199 public systems and 15 private systems are in Year 1.

The public systems seeking accreditation this year are Nemaha Central USD 115; Humboldt USD 258; Prairie View USD 362; Andover USD 385; Douglas USD 428; Great Bend USD 428; Abilene USD 435; and Fredonia USD 484.

Private systems seeking accreditation this year are Ascension Catholic School; Christ the King Elementary in Topeka; Holy Trinity Elementary in Paola; Holy Trinity Elementary in Lenexa; Nativity Parish School; Prince of Peace Catholic School; Sacred Heart Elementary School in Ottawa; Saint Benedict Catholic School; St. Joseph School in Shawnee; St. Gregory Elementary School; St. Matthew Elementary School; Xavier Elementary School; Zion Lutheran; and Holy Cross Lutheran.

The Kansas State Board of Education recognized the 2019 United States Senate Youth Program delegates and alternates from Kansas. The 2019 Kansas delegates are Eli Blaufuss, of Newton High School, and Benjamin “Scott” Sawaya, of Blue Valley Southwest High School. The 2019 Kansas alternates are Benjamin Posch, of Eudora High School, and Alejandro Rangel-Lopez, of Dodge City High School.

Amanda Petersen, director of KSDE’s Early Childhood team, gave an update on strengthening the Kansas early childhood system.

Kansas was awarded $4,482,305 in federal grant funding. The Preschool Development Grant Birth Through 5 authorized by the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) is a one-year planning grant. The Kansas Children’s Cabinet and Trust Fund, the Kansas Department for Children and Families, the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, KSDE and many other early childhood partners are engaging in the collaborative work, Petersen said.

In 2019, Kansas will conduct a needs assessment; develop a strategic plan; maximize parental choice and knowledge; and share best practices among early childhood providers. After the needs assessment and strategic plan are completed, the state plans to improve the overall quality of early childhood care and education programs in the state.

The Governor’s Council on Education has been charged with expanding public-private partnerships focused on universal access to quality early learning and strengthening collaboration between agencies and organizations focused on preparing young Kansans to succeed in school and beyond.

There currently are community engagement sessions taking place across Kansas. Communities are being asked to share what bright spots, services or attributes they have to support young children and families that should be amplified and celebrated.

Communities also are being asked to share their vision for early childhood and what gaps they see between the early childhood system as it is and their vision.

Kansans are invited to share their stories, too, by visiting kschildrenscabinet.org/early-childhood. So far, more than 850 stories have been collected, Petersen said.

Now through July, the state will continue to collect information and conduct additional research. This fall, those findings will be synthesized and used to help develop a strategic plan.

The state’s expected outcome is that the early childhood system will be a lot stronger, Petersen said.

Petersen also shared that there are 8,864 preschool-aged, at-risk slots available to allocate for 2019-2020.

Deputy Commissioner Dale Dennis and Craig Neuenswander, KSDE’s school finance director, gave board members an update on legislative matters, and Cheryl Johnson and Dennis also discussed school breakfast program waivers. The number of schools requesting school breakfast program waivers has decreased significantly.

Staff members from Fredonia USD 484 and Beloit USD 273, both taking part in the Kansans Can School Redesign Project, shared some of the programs taking place in their schools.

Fredonia USD 484 is a Gemini II participant, and Beloit USD 273 is a Gemini I participant. Staff members and administrators from both districts attended a 2016 KSDE conference on summer academies and loved the idea of starting a summer academy at their own districts.

Brian Smith, superintendent of Fredonia, and Jennifer McKenney, president of the Fredonia USD 484 school board, presented about the Fredonia Medical Academy, a two-week summer academy that started in 2017.

Students who finished their freshman year and took a biology course (and received a C or better) were invited to participate in the medical academy. Five were accepted into the first academy.

Jordan Smith, 17, a recent graduate of Fredonia High School, and Cooper Odell, 17, a junior at the high school, have both participated in the medical academy. They shared their experiences with the board. The students said they were able to hone their suturing skills on oranges, practice casting on bears, visited laboratories, scrubbed up to enter an operating room (although they didn’t observe an actual surgical procedure) and more.

At the end of the program, students have to give a presentation on their area of interest, and then they receive a certificate.

During the summer of 2018, the students were offered an advanced medical academy. Odell explained that he had an interest in family medicine before the advance medical academy. After observing some surgical procedures and shadowing, Odell realized it wasn’t a career he wanted to pursue. Through the academy, he was able to shadow a dentist and decided that was an area he wanted to learn more about.

Smith wanted to become a pharmacist before attending the advanced medical academy, she said. After shadowing a pharmacist, Smith decided that career choice wasn’t the right one for her. However, she learned more about endocrinologists and said it is a field she wants to explore further.

“It’s really opened my eyes to all of the opportunities there are,” Smith told the board.

McKenney said the program isn’t about turning the students into doctors.

“It’s about making sure they are passionate about their future,” she said. “We are proud of these students.”

The third medical academy will kick off the first week of June, Smith told the board. There are 13 students from Fredonia and Chanute signed up for this year’s academy.

The academies have “opened doors for our school district,” Smith said.

Jeff Travis, superintendent of Beloit USD 273, said his district also began a summer academy. The focus of Beloit’s summer academy – called the Career Exploration and Leadership Academy – is leadership and civic skills.

Beloit invites students from surrounding schools to attend the academy, Travis said.

“We have had so many cool things happen tied right into this academy,” he said.

For example, the district has formed global partnerships with TRANE and Ingersoll Rand. The partnership with TRANE has turned the district’s campuses into “living learning labs.” With the help of TRANE, students were able to study the elementary and junior-senior high campuses for heating and cooling comfort levels, efficiencies and C02 levels, Travis said.

Data from these studies have been used to start making changes on the campuses.

Because of the academy, students are now participating in the KID Wind Challenge at the regional, state and national level. This has created interests for students in energy, both renewable and nonrenewable. Students also have started participating in the National Energy Education Development (NEED) Project.

Stephanie Litton, the Fredonia junior-senior high school counselor, said the academy is for incoming sixth- through ninth-grade students. The two-week academy takes place 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Friday. Students take two trips to area businesses each day of the program, Litton said.

The Career Exploration and Leadership Academy is in its third year. The first year – 2017 - there were about five participants. In the summer of 2018, there were about 30 participants. There may be up to 60 participants this year, Litton said.

Students have spent time at pharmacies, ranches, a local fire department and more.

The cost for the Career Exploration and Leadership Academy is $10 for one week or $15 for both weeks. The cost includes lunch each day and a T-shirt.

Chris Adams, a K-6 Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) teacher at Fredonia, talked about the STEM portion of the summer academy. In 2018, the group took a field trip to TRANE’s Customer Education Center in Lenexa, Adams said.

This summer, students in the academy will visit the Wind Energy Farm in Concordia; Glen Elder Lake to shock and tag fish; KVSV Radio Station; AgMark in Beloit; Johnson/Frasier/Martin Law for a courthouse tour; Ullom Truck and Trailer Salvage in Beloit; and Mitchell County Hospital to learn about physical therapy.

Beth Fultz, KSDE’s assistant director for Career, Standards and Assessment Services (CSAS) team, gave State Board members an update on assessments.

The Kite Suite, software used to administer tests for the Kansas Assessment Program, was used to deliver more than 2 million tests during the 2018-2019 school year. There were no social studies tests this year, Fultz said. There were 5,373 service help ticket phone calls during the assessment period, which is a decrease from 6,600 help desk tickets in 2017 and 6,260 in 2018.

The testing window for 2019 state assessments (English Language Arts, math and science) was March 11 through April 26. There were 260,967 students in third through eighth grade and 10th grade who took the ELA assessment. There were 261,431 students in third through eighth grade and 10th grade who took the math assessment. Students in fifth, eighth and 11th grade take the science assessment, and there were 108,897 students who took it, Fultz said.

Students who speak other languages and are in kindergarten through 12th grade take the Kansas English Language Proficiency Assessment (KELPA2). There are four domains: reading, writing, speaking and listening. The testing window for KELPA2 was Feb. 4 through March 22. There were 44,818 students who took KELPA2.

The ELA, math, science and KELPA2 scores were released May 6. ELA and math score reports also include Lexile/Quantile measure. Eighth- and 10th-grade students also receive an ACT predictive range.

In the 2019-2020 school year, there will be a new KELPA.

The science assessment will continue to be modified, Fultz said, and there will be additional three-dimensional items included. There won’t be any changes to ELA and math assessments.

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