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Kansas State Board of Education May highlights: Graduation Requirements Task Force gives update of work to State Board

Posted: May 13, 2022
Author: Ann Bush

Kansas State Board of Education members received an update from the Kansas Graduation Requirements Task Force on Tuesday, May 10.

The Task Force was established in June 2021 to examine graduation requirements in Kansas from three lenses:

  • Identify courses to add or delete from current requirements (if any).
  • Review ways to demonstrate mastery of skills and competencies.
  • Study the need for value-added assets in addition to a high school diploma.

State Board member Jim McNiece, who also serves as co-chair of the Task Force, introduced Task Force co-chair Jarred Fuhrman, principal of Basehor-Linwood High School, Basehor-Linwood USD 458. Also in attendance were Christie Meyer, principal of Eisenhower High School, Goddard USD 265, subcommittee chair of courses to add or delete, if any; Kelly Nusser, principal of Lyons High School, Lyons USD 405, subcommittee chair of postsecondary assets; Ed Raines, principal of Washburn Rural High School, Auburn-Washburn USD 437, subcommittee chair of demonstrate mastery and competency; and Trish Backman, specialized education teacher at Lawrence Gardner High School, subcommittee chair of special needs students.

The Task Force organized a statewide stakeholder survey to receive feedback. Overall, about 90% of responses were submitted by parents, teachers and community members.

The proportion of business and industry respondents (88%) who favor mastery/competency-based education was significantly higher than the proportion of all other groups (72%).

The proportion of business and industry respondents (72%) who support a requirement to attain a market value asset prior to graduating is significantly higher than the proportion of all other groups (40%).

The Task Force recommended that the State Board and the Kansas State Department of Education clarify and provide examples of flexibility, as well as criteria for personalization tools, which Kansas students and families have at their disposal, in an effort to improve engagement and better meet the needs of all students. A high-fidelity Individual Plan of Study is necessary, Fuhrman said.

The Task Force recommendations would keep the minimum number of units in specific subjects at 21 in order to graduate. School districts can require more than the minimum. There, however, would be a new classification system for classes, Meyer said. Classes would fall in to four groups – communications, society and humanities, STEM and employability and life skills.

The Task Force also recommends that students earn two or more postsecondary assets from either career and real-world (such as apprenticeships, agricultural experiences, community service hour, JROTC, work experience, etc.) or academics (such as an ACT composite of 21 or higher; silver or higher WorkKeys; nine or more hours or college; a SAT score of 1480 or higher; Kansas State Assessment score of 3 or 4 for math, English language arts and science; etc.).

Final subcommittee reports will be referred to KSDE for review and appropriate action, McNiece said. KSDE will determine a timeline to bring a final action item to the State Board based on extensive input from the Graduation Requirements Task Force subcommittee reports.

Dr. Mischel Miller, director of KSDE’s Teacher Licensure and Accreditation team, gave a presentation on educator shortage and teacher licensure.

KSDE conducted a survey of school districts about the Temporary Emergency Authorized License (TEAL). Out of 286 districts, 82% were in favor of continuing TEAL. There have been 906 TEAL licenses issued.

Miller offered these recommendations for licensure:

  • Substitute license: Waive the number of days an individual can serve as a substitute. Expand options to qualify for an emergency substitute license to one of the following – bachelor’s degree; 60 college credit hours; and completion of Kansas educator created online training module component.
  • TEAL license: The TEAL licensure wouldn’t continue. However, there are expanding options to qualify for an emergency substitute license that will replace the TEAL license.

The online training module component would be provided for free by Greenbush Education Service Center. The modules would consists of:

  • Substitute Orientation: Top 10 Success Strategies.
  • Setting Expectations and Classroom Management Strategies.
  • Delivery of Instruction and Checking for Understanding.
  • Meeting the Social and Emotional Needs of Students Module.
  • Strategies to Adjust/Adapt Instruction and the Classroom Environment Module.

Kansas Commissioner of Education Dr. Randy Watson shared details of the 2022 Sunflower Summer program with State Board members.

There are 87 entities participating in this year’s program, Watson said. The program will begin Memorial Day weekend and run through early August.

State Board of Education members voted to accept the recommendations of the Commissioner’s Task Force on Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) II and Emergency Assistance to Nonpublic Schools (EANS) Distribution of Money and approve 11 ESSER II change requests and 15 ESSER III applications.

Doug Boline, assistant director of the KSDE’s Special Education and Title Services (SETS) team, discussed the ESSER II change requests and ESSER III expenditure plans for use of federal COVID-19 relief funds.

There were 11 ESSER II change applications from districts, representing 17,397 students, Boline said. There were 119 individual budgeted expenditures with a total value of $13.6 million.

There were 15 districts that submitted ESSER III plans, representing 16,723 students, Boline said. There were 375 individual budgeted expenditures with a total value of $28.2 million.

Dr. Tiffany Anderson, superintendent of Topeka Unified School District 501 and co-chair of the Governor’s Commission on Racial Equity and Justice, provided a report and recommendations.

The governor signed an executive order on June 24, 2020, to form the Governor’s Commission on Racial Equity and Justice. The Commission submitted its first report to the governor on law enforcement and policing on Dec. 1, 2020. There were more than 60 recommendations.

In 2021, the Commission focused on studying racial equity within economic systems, education and health care. The group met every other week from July 2020 through December 2021. The Commission’s 2021 report on the Social Determinants of Health includes 90 recommendations.

The 2021 recommendations include:

  • Maximize federal funding to repeal restrictions that prevent families from accessing TANF and SNAP benefits.
  • Teacher diversity.
  • Provide flexibility to student teaching programs for nontraditional students who must work and student teach.
  • Districts should create policies that support and protect diversity among students, teachers and staff members.
  • Incentivize second-language fluency for teachers and other staff in educational institutions.
  • Provide incentives and structures to engage teachers as mentors and encourage mentorship by teachers who come from underrepresented groups.
  • School mascots.
  • Schools should recognize and respect tribal sovereignty and acknowledge and build partnerships with federally recognized tribes in their school district.
  • Housing and homelessness.
  • Replicate and fund models with a proven track record of reducing homelessness.
  • Behavioral health.
  • Utilize app-based mental health services in Medicaid to improve access for young adults.
  • Increase the availability of infant/early childhood mental health consultation services in the state.
  • Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) and interfamily violence.
  • Improve coordination and partnerships to increase prevention services and guard against ACEs.
  • Provide accessible screening of parents and children for behavioral health and development needs.
  • Juvenile justice system.
  • Eliminate “zero tolerance” policies and promote alternatives to suspensions for discipline such as alternative schools, behavioral interventionists, family case managers and restorative justice programs.
  • Remove subjective language such as “disobedience,” “intolerance” and “disrespect” from school and school district behavior matrices or discipline codes of conduct.
  • Encourage partnership and mentoring between schools that feed the pipeline and educators who work in the Kansas Juvenile Correctional Complex.
  • The legislature should gain a better understanding of problems facing juveniles by setting regular meetings with school counselors.

The State Board acted to establish the Kansas Advisory Council for Indigenous Education Working Group (KACIE-WG) to act as a temporary advisory body to KSDE and partner with the Kansas Board of Regents (KBOR) for areas of reform related to American Indian Education.

KACIE-WG will consist of multiple institutions, including the State Board of Education, KSDE and KBOR, working toward the long-term goal of establishing a more permanent and formal advisory council for Native American education.

Nancy Zenger-Beneda, executive director of the Kansas Foundation for Agriculture in the Classroom (KFAC), gave a presentation.

Agriculture is the largest economic driver in Kansas, Zenger-Beneda said.

The mission of KFAC is to connect Kansas classrooms to Kansas agriculture. It is a statewide educational program dedicated to improving agricultural literacy by providing resources and training to spark meaningful connections between Kansas agriculture and the quality of life, according to Zenger-Beneda.

KFAC offers free lesson plans to teachers that are aligned with Kansas curricular standards. The lesson plans highlight Kansas agriculture. The organization also offers free educator kits, free educator resources and more.

KFAC is a 501 c(3) nonprofit that “survives on grants and donations,” Zenger-Beneda said. The nonprofit employs two staff members, and there are 35 volunteers who comprise the KFAC board of directors and committees, including Ben Jones, a State Board of Education member.

State Board of Education members had lunch with the United States Senate Youth Program (USSYP) delegates and alternates. This is the 60th annual USSYP. They also recognized the four high school students

Gerrit Dangermond, a junior at Oskaloosa High School, Oskaloosa Unified School District 341, and William Rues, a senior at La Crosse High School, La Crosse USD 395, were selected to join the 104-student delegation that virtually attended Washington Week in March. They each received a $10,000 undergraduate college scholarship with encouragement to continue coursework in government, history and public affairs.

Chosen as alternates to the 2022 program were Kevinh Nguyen, who lives in Topeka and attends Seaman High School, Seaman USD 345, and Andrew Phalen, who lives in Lawrence and attends Lawrence High School, Lawrence USD 497.

Dr. David Fernkopf, assistant director of KSDE’s Career, Standards and Assessment Services (CSAS) team, gave State Board members an update on the upcoming 2022 Summer Academies, which will take place in various locations in June and July.

The State Board accepted the recommendations of the Accreditation Review Council (ARC) and awarded the status of accredited to De Soto USD 232 and Independence USD 446.

This school year, 92 systems – 80 public, one state and 11 private – are scheduled for accreditation. Of these 92 systems, 37 entered the KESA process as year one. Thirty-five didn’t take a pause year, while two systems paused and then requested to be accredited with their cohorts.

All remaining systems entered as year two systems, which means if the pause wouldn’t have been available, they would have been scheduled for accreditation in 2020-2021.

Through the month of July, it is expected that the State Board will receive ARC recommendations for all 92 systems.

ARC submitted its accreditation recommendation for 22 systems – 19 public and three private. ARC recommended to the State Board of Education that 22 systems be accredited through the Kansas Education Systems Accreditation (KESA) model. One system, Holy Spirit Catholic School, was reviewed and redetermined to accredited status. [DLK1] The State Board is scheduled to act on the recommended statuses in June.

Schools recommended for accreditation are:

  • Washington County USD 108
  • Fort Leavenworth USD 207
  • Northern Valley USD 212
  • Hodgeman County USD 227
  • Cheney USD 268
  • Waconda USD 272
  • Wamego USD 320
  • Baldwin City USD 348
  • Vermillion USD 380
  • LaCrosse USD 395
  • Morris County USD 417
  • South Brown County USD 430
  • Santa Fe Trail USD 434
  • Halstead USD 440
  • Stanton County USD 452
  • Garden City USD 457
  • Basehor-Linwood USD 458
  • Bucklin USD 459
  • Valley Heights USD 498
  • St. James Academy
  • Resurrection Catholic School

Deputy Commissioner Dr. Craig Neuenswander updated State Board of Education members on legislative matters.

On Wednesday, May 11, State Board members toured the Kansas School for the Deaf and Olathe West High School.

The board will meet next on June 14-15 at the Landon State Office Building, 900 S.W. Jackson, Suite 102.

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