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Kansas State Board of Education September highlights: Board approves KESA recommendations

Posted: Sep 11, 2020
Author: Ann Bush

Kansas State Board of Education members at their September meeting accredited El Dorado Unified School District 490 through the Kansas Education Systems Accreditation (KESA) and conditionally accredited public system Paola USD 368 and private system Hope Lutheran.The board met Tuesday, Sept. 8, and Wednesday, Sept. 9, at the Landon State Office Building in Topeka.

The KESA model shifted accreditation from schools to the district-system level, and moved accreditation from a yearly event to a five-year continuous improvement model approach.

An Outside Visitation Team (OVT), made up of education professionals, visits a system yearly to support and review progress toward its accreditation and state board goals. Members of the Accreditation Review Council (ARC), made up of education professionals and other stakeholders, review all OVT documentation and submit a recommended accreditation status for each system to the state board for final consideration.

Accredited means the system is in good standing with the State Board of Education and they provided conclusive evidence in student performance.

Conditionally accredited means the system is in good standing with the State Board and either the system didn’t provide conclusive evidence of growth in student performance or wasn’t able to provide conclusive evidence of an intentional quality growth process.

Not accredited means one of three things:

  • The system isn’t in good standing with the State Board.
  • The system didn’t provide conclusive evidence of growth in student performance.
  • The system wasn’t able to provide conclusive evidence of an intentional quality growth process.

If a system is given a recommended status of conditionally accredited or not accredited, the system is provided with information on areas for improvement; rationale about the decision; tasks expected to be completed; and a timeline. A system has 15 calendar days to appeal the recommendation.

Board members at the August meeting received the recommendations for the three systems from the ARC. In the 2019-2020 school year, there were 29 systems scheduled for accreditation.

The board also received an ARC recommendation this month for private system St. Patrick Elementary. ARC initially recommended that St. Patrick Elementary be conditionally accredited. However, St. Patrick appealed the decision, but after going through the appeals process, ARC still recommended that the system be conditionally accredited.

The board is slated to act on the recommendation for St. Patrick at its October meeting.

Citing the extraordinary circumstances created by the pandemic, State Board members voted to suspend the rules to allow a motion and vote on extending the KESA process for systems. They then voted to allow public and private systems going through the KESA process the option to suspend KESA activities through the fall semester of 2020 or to continue in the process.

Deputy Commissioner Dr. Brad Neuenswander discussed recommendations from KSDE staff members on changing the existing timelines for dyslexia initiatives. Recommendations of the Kansas Legislative Task Force on Dyslexia were approved by the State Board of Education in November 2019. Work on these recommendations began without funding for a paid position in the KSDE agency. Training, developed and delivered by KSDE for free to school districts, has been ongoing since March via Zoom. However, because of a lack of funding to continue the work, it was recommended that these changes be made to timelines:

  • Dyslexia position at KSDE: Move to July 2021 instead of July 2020.
  • Professional learning requirements: Move to the end of the 2021 school year rather than the beginning.
  • Universal screening: Move to the beginning of the 2022 school year rather than the 2021 school year.
  • Evidenced-based literacy (structure literacy): Move to the beginning of the 2022 school year rather than the 2021 school year.
  • Dyslexia handbook: Move to December State Board of Education meeting instead of July 2020.

The board failed to pass the recommendations for updating the dyslexia timelines.

The State Board approved the new educator preparation program standards for reading specialists, pre-K-12. These standards establish program approval requirements to ensure that preparation programs in Kansas provide educator candidates the opportunity to learn the knowledge and skills educators need for today’s learning context. Institutions of higher education (IHEs) utilize program standards to develop their prep programs and submit them for approval.

Commissioner Watson recognized the medical professionals who served as resources for the “Navigating Change: Kansas’ Guide to Learning and School Safety Operations” guidance document.

Cheryl Johnson, director of the Kansas State Department of Education’s (KSDE) Child Nutrition and Wellness (CNW) team, presented Kansans Can 2019-2020 Best Practice Awards to school districts, organizations and a group of leaders. The Best Practice Awards recognize outstanding practices in Child Nutrition and Wellness Programs in Kansas that support the Kansans Can vision, which is Kansas leads the world in the success of each student.

The awards and recipients are:

  • Kansans Can Implement Innovative Meal Pattern Strategies: Wamego USD 320.
  • Kansans Can Serve Local Foods: Haven USD 312 and Elk Valley USD 283.
  • Kansans Can Provide Outstanding Customer Service: Topeka USD 501, McPherson USD 418 and Maize USD 266.
  • Kansans Can Step Up to Lead: First Choice Support Services Inc. and Navigating Change 2020 Food Service Operations Committee.
  • Kansans Can Increase Participation: Wamego USD 320, Haven USD 312, Southern Lyon County USD 252, Liberal USD 480, Quality Care Services Inc. and St. John’s Missionary Baptist Church.
  • Kansans Can Adapt: Maize USD 266.

The board authorized submission of proposed amendments to the Professional Practices Commission regulations to the Budget Division, the Department of Administration and the Office of the Attorney General for a formal adoption process.

Deputy Commissioner Dale Dennis discussed results of a survey on broadband internet access for Kansas students. KSDE conducted the survey of all public unified school districts to determine how many of their students didn’t have broadband internet access. School administrators were asked to respond to the question: How many of your students would you estimate do not have broadband internet access in their home?

The survey was based upon accessibility, not the family’s ability to pay.

Some districts had difficulty deciding whether the information was because of financial inability or lack of accessibility.

School districts estimate 48,587 out of 499,331 students - or 9.73 percent - don’t have access to broadband internet.

Board members accepted the recommendation of the Teacher Vacancy and Supply Committee (TVSC) to continue providing a limited apprentice license special education paraprofessional-to-teaching pathway, modeled after the limited apprentice high incidence pilot, but with adjustment to the program of study.

It was further moved that the board accept the recommendation of the TVSC to continue to explore and then pilot an alternative pathway to earn an elementary education license for bachelor-degreed individuals to transition to teaching – while prioritizing the design and development of an option for already licensed teachers to add an elementary education endorsement to their existing license.

Board members accepted the retirement of Deputy Commissioner Dale Dennis. Dennis, who has served 53 years with KSDE, will retire effective Sept. 30. Dr. Craig Neuenswander, who currently serves as the director of School Finance, will step into Dennis’ position.

The State Board of Education had a joint virtual meeting with the Kansas Board of Regents on Wednesday, Sept. 9.

The two boards discussed aligning spring breaks for the entire Kansas public education system. Aligning spring breaks for K-12 and postsecondary would benefit high school students taking CTE and college courses.

State Board of Education members received a demonstration on the Kansas DegreeStats website and discussed integrating it in Individual Plans of Study (IPS).

The boards also discussed goals for concurrent enrollment in high schools.

The next Kansas State Board of Education meeting will take place Oct. 13-14 at the Landon State Office Building, 900 S.W. Jackson, in Topeka.

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