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Kansas State Board of Education November highlights: Resolution honoring school personnel accepted

Posted: Nov 13, 2020
Author: Ann Bush

Kansas State Board of Education members in honor of American Education Week, Nov. 16-20, accepted a resolution supporting all of the dedicated school personnel in Kansas in recognition of their hard work, sacrifices and commitment, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The week is designated as American Education Week by the National Education Association. 

State Board members accredited Blue Valley Unified School District 229, Renwick USD 267, Lincoln USD 298 and Buhler USD 313 through the Kansas Education Systems Accreditation (KESA) system.

Mischel Miller, director of Teacher Licensure and Accreditation (TLA), and Jeannette Nobo, assistant TLA director, presented the Accreditation Review Council (ARC) recommendation for Shawnee Heights USD 450. ARC recommended that Shawnee Heights USD 450 be awarded accreditation. Board members will act on the recommendation at their December meeting.
Amanda Petersen, director of KSDE’s Early Childhood team, gave a quarterly update on work to strengthen the Kansas early childhood system.

Kansas received a federal grant to help shape its future direction for early childhood during the next few years. Thousands of Kansans from across the state helped inform a comprehensive needs assessment of early care and education programs and services, which led to development of a statewide strategic plan.

The “All in for Kansas Kids” strategic plan has seven goal areas:
1.    State-level collaboration.
2.    Community-level collaboration.
3.    Family knowledge and choice.
4.    Private sector collaboration.
5.    Capacity and access.
6.    Workforce.
7.    Quality and environments.

The Kansas Children’s Cabinet and Trust Fund, Kansas Department for Children and Families, Kansas Department of Health and Environment, KSDE and other partners are working together to make progress in these areas.

KSDE and the Kansas Children’s Cabinet and Trust Fund are collaborating to develop a common application process for the Kansas Preschool Pilot and Early Childhood Block Grant for fiscal year 2022, Petersen said. The goal is to streamline grant writing and reporting for local partners.

As of Nov. 1, 2020, schools have entered 21,546 Ages & Stages Questionnaires, Third Edition (ASQ-3) screenings and 21,243 Ages & Stages Questionnaires: Social-Emotional, Second Edition (ASQ: SE-2) screenings for this year’s kindergarten-age students, Petersen said. KSDE is working with schools to finalize this year’s data so that the agency can begin analyzing results. A new statewide contract allows all Kansas community-based and school-based early childhood care and education providers to provide the ASQ: 3 and ASQ: SE-2 to all Kansas children birth through kindergarten entry.

Melissa Rooker, executive director of the Kansas Children’s Cabinet and Trust Fund, gave board members an update on grants to support school-age children.

State Board of Education members approved the revised Kansas School Wellness Policy Model Guidelines.

Cheryl Johnson, director of KSDE’s Child Nutrition and Wellness (CNW) team, and Mark Thompson, a KSDE education program consultant, answered questions about the revisions.

The CNW team has been working since October 2019 on revising the guidelines. The wellness guidelines were last reviewed and updated in May 2017. Input for revisions has been obtained from more than 400 school personnel, content experts, community members, those in the industry and stakeholders throughout Kansas.

Cynthia Hadicke, an education program consultant for KSDE, gave a progress update on the dyslexia initiative, including a proposed handbook. 

At the November 2019 State Board of Education meeting, the board approved the recommendations of the Dyslexia Committee regarding pre-service teacher programs, professional learning, screening and evaluation and evidence-based practices. The recommendations aim to identify, intervene and remediate dyslexia in Kansas schools.

The handbook was developed to provide guidance and information to a broad spectrum of educators and stakeholders. The publication is in response to the Kansas Legislative Task Force on Dyslexia and its recommendations. The purpose is to help inform educators and families about practices that support students with dyslexia and other reading difficulties.

The 2019 national finalists for the Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching (PAEMST) gave presentations to the board. The 2019 recipients are Luke Henke, a math teacher at Columbus Unified High School, Columbus USD 493, and Margaret “Meg” Richard, who at the time of the award was a science teacher at Summit Trail Middle School, Olathe USD 233. Richard is currently employed by KSDE as an education program consultant.

Each Kansas finalist received a $10,000 unrestricted award from the National Science Foundation.

PAEMST national finalists are announced by the White House. This process is currently one year behind schedule.

Mark Thompson, an education program consultant for KSDE, provided an update on the work of the E-Cigarette/Vaping Task Force.

Hina Shah, senior analyst for the Kansas Health Institute, discussed a new, free educational model called Project Extension for Community Healthcare Outcomes (ECHO) that could be used for a series of trainings on different aspects of e-cigarettes/vaping for school staff members across the state.

Kansas Commissioner of Education Dr. Randy Watson shared some recommendations with board members about ways to increase flexibility of school operations during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Board members had discussion at their October board member about ways to assist schools and families during the pandemic. They asked Dr. Watson and KSDE staff members to research options that could allow flexibility or provide additional supports to school districts.

Watson said a decision on state assessments will be made after the first of the year. Interim assessments may be taken remotely, and the history, government and social studies assessment can be delayed one year.

Watson also shared details about professional development for educators. Sixty-two percent of all professional development days were scheduled before Sept. 15, 2020, he said. Twenty-six school districts used all of the professional development days before that same date. Sixty districts used 80 percent of their professional development days before Sept. 15, 2020.

Eighty-seven percent of Kansas school districts are taking three days off for Thanksgiving, and 87% are taking eight to 10 days for the Christmas/holiday break. Forty percent are taking Martin Luther King Jr. Day as a holiday for both students and teachers, while 35% will have it as professional development for teachers. Eighty-seven percent will have at least five days off for spring break, and 84% will have one or two days off around Easter.

State Board of Education members can waive the required number of instructional hours in times of emergencies. However, Watson said, waiving the hours right now would be irresponsible, and it would be better to wait until later in the school year.

KSDE’s Tammy Mitchell, an elementary school redesign specialist, led State Board of Education members through a demonstration of the Kansas Teaching and Learning Project. The website is a collection of free resources for Kansas educators and school leaders. The Kansas Association of Education Services Agencies, in collaboration with KSDE, created the website to provide relevant, timely and impactful professional development and support tied to the Navigating Change guidance for school districts.

Key areas include:
•    Understanding the Navigating Change document.
•    Social-emotional learning.
•    Competency-based and professional learning.
•    Remote and hybrid teaching and learning.
•    Teaching and instructional technology.
•    Leadership and communication.
•    Community and family engagement.

Each of the areas include a comprehensive glossary, grab-and-go resources and a series of 30-minute or less training and support videos. There also will be live sessions scheduled throughout the year.

Miller, KSDE’s TLA director, and Susan Helbert, assistant director of TLA, presented to the board details on how microcredentials work within the current professional development council criteria and how to effectively implement the process at the local level.

At their October meeting, State Board members discussed the use of competency-based microcredentials as a means of personalized professional learning for educators. Earning a microcredential is one way educators can choose to improve their teaching and advance in their careers by identifying a professional learning need and then acquiring new skills to demonstrate in the classroom.

The board only met for one day because of the Veterans Day holiday.

The State Board of Education’s next meeting will take place Dec. 14-15 at the Landon State Office Building, 900 S.W. Jackson, in Topeka.
 

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