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October board highlights: State Board of Education members receive report from Coalition of Innovative School Districts

Posted: Oct 31, 2016
Author: Ann Bush

Kansas Commissioner of Education Randy Watson kicked off the October Kansas State Board of Education meeting by discussing what has taken place since the vision was announced one year ago.

Watson updated board members on the five outcomes — kindergarten readiness; social-emotional growth measured locally; Individual Plan of Study focused on career interest; high school graduation rates; and postsecondary completion. He also updated them on what he has been doing the past year. He has visited 140 school districts out of 286 in the past year.

Representatives from the Coalition of Innovative School Districts attended the meeting to give a report. Bill Mullins, superintendent of Marysville Unified School District 364, led the discussion. The Coalition is responsible for giving a report twice per year. Current Coalition members are McPherson USD 418; Concordia USD 333; Kansas City Kansas USD 500; Hugoton USD 210; Blue Valley USD 229; Marysville USD 364; and Fredonia USD 484.

Changes the Coalition have made in the past year include the introduction of Zoom videoconferencing; an increased use of subcommittees; different meeting formats, such as five one-day work sessions and seven Zoom video conferences throughout the year; and an increased use of social media.

Focus areas for the 2016-2017 year are:

•    Defining the Coalition – vision, mission, core beliefs and why do we exist?

•    Promoting the Coalition.

•    Exploring innovative ideas from other schools and districts in Kansas and other states.

•    Taking a leadership role in promoting the Kansans Can vision.

•    Preparing and/or implementing pilot projects that are aligned with the vision.

•    Assessment subcommittee: Common social studies assessments and rubrics and dynamic data dashboards.

•    Graduation requirements/Individual Plans of Study subcommittee: studying national trends; identifying stakeholders who depend on the current system; and more.

•    Social-emotional learning subcommittee: best practices and measurement and defining growth.

Board members received higher education licensure program standards for biology (6-12), earth and space science (6-12) and science (5-8).

Standards revision work groups are completing the task of revising all program standards to ensure they reflect new knowledge and skills educators need for effectiveness in today’s world. As work groups complete drafts, the draft standards are sent to appropriate associations, such as the National Science Teachers Association, where they go through alignment review. The drafts also are posted to receive public comment via the KSDE website. 

The standards revision work groups then review the input from the SPAs and any public comment and a final draft is formulated. Following review and the final approval by the Professional Standards Board, the standards are sent for State Board approval. Once approved, Institutes of Higher Learning (IHEs) have access to develop new programs around the standards to revise their current programs to align to the updated standards.

IHEs utilize standards to develop their preparation programs and submit for approval and monitor and redesign programs to ensure teacher candidates have access to learning opportunities that are aligned with the needs of today’s learners and expectations of teachers.

There are two types of program standards:

•    Professional Education Standards, which articulate a core of teaching knowledge and skills. What teachers across all content and grade levels should know and be able to do to be effective in today’s learning contexts.

•    Content Program Standards, which articulate knowledge and skills within each specific content or (endorsement) subject area, such as chemistry, math and elementary.

Previous biology standards began with biology-specific content understanding followed by science teaching knowledge and skills. Revised standards begin with science teaching knowledge and skills followed by biology-specific content understanding standards. The total number of standards was reduced to enhance standards alignment with assessment tools.

The new earth and space science standards are focused on depth and knowledge of the important topics in earth and space sciences. The new earth science standards are significantly different enough from the previous standards that a standard to standard crosswalk isn’t helpful, presenters said.

In science (five through eight), there was added detail and demonstration of application and knowledge. The previous 14 standards were consolidated into 11 new standards. The standards were updated to reflect the elements detailed in the new Kansas College and Career Ready Science Standards, including science and engineering practices, disciplinary core ideas and crosscutting concepts. Standards were updated to emphasize teaching science for conceptual understanding.

The new science education standards are significantly different enough from previous standards that a direct standard to standard crosswalk isn’t helpful, presenters said. The new standards add clarity to the nature of specific inquiry by detailing specific practices and concepts. They also add significant detail in aligning effective instruction of scientific inquiry for diverse students, and also add detail in emphasizing student construction of knowledge.

Approval of the standards are set to occur at the November State Board meeting.

Board members also learned about the E-rate/EducationSuperHighway. It is a nonprofit organization established in January 2012 with the mission of ensuring every K-12 school in America has reliable, high-capacity Internet access. EducationSuperHighway is funded by numerous foundations and individuals such and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Draper Richards Kaplan Foundation.

KSDE currently provides funding to assist school districts with a contract E-rate support hotline, an E-rate support website and annual E-rate training across the state for school district staff.
EducationSuperHighway reached out to Gov. Sam Brownback’s office and KSDE to offer assistance to Kansas schools with resources, support, data leaning, data analysis and technical expertise to ensure Kansas is providing the best possible connectivity at the best prices. EducationSuperHighway is seeking the State Board’s support in this initiative and assistance in driving the collaborative and cooperative work with KSDE, other state agencies and schools to reach 21st century goals. 

The board decided to place the item on the actions items for November’s meeting.

The Kansas Education Systems Accreditation Advisory Council shared recommendations for the Outside Validation Team (OVT). The team is made up of education professionals charged with coaching, mentoring and supporting the district to which they are assigned for the duration of the five-year accreditation cycle. The team will provide an objective perspective, ensure process fidelity and foster cross-district collaboration, said KSDE’s Scott Myers, director of Teacher Licensure and Accreditation.

Each system (public or private school district that seeks accreditation from KSDE) is responsible for developing its own OVT. During the first year, the team will schedule visits, develop an agenda and review goal areas. In the second year, the team will implement system strategies, tour facilities and programs, provide coaching as needed and schedule follow-up visits.

During the third year, the team will conduct site visits, provide coaching as needed, discuss goal progress and submit progress feedback to system leadership. In the fourth year, the team will provide coaching as needed, review progress where applicable, conduct site visits and prepare for a five-year wrap-up.
In the last year, year five, the team will conduct a final full-day visit, complete a final report, make a presentation to the local board of education and submit a final report to KSDE.

State Board members also recognized 2016-2018 National PTA School of Excellence Award recipients from Kansas. The National PTA School of Excellence is a recognition program that supports and celebrates partnerships between PTAs and schools to enrich the educational experience and overall well-being for all students.

The program also reiterates the importance of a joint commitment between PTA and school leaders to work together to achieve PTAs National Standards for Family-School Partnerships, which was endorsed by the State Board in 2008.

This year, 173 schools were named as Schools of Excellence, including two in Kansas:

Shawnee Mission North High School and Shawnee Mission North Parent Teacher Student Association (PTSA) (Overland Park), Shawnee Mission School District.

Wyandotte High School and Wyandotte High School PTSA (Kansas City), Kansas City, Kan., School District.

State Board members also:

•    Received an update on the Kansas Educational Leadership Institute, which is a collaborative effort sponsored by K-State’s College of Education, KSDE, the Kansas Association of School Boards, United School Administrators of Kansas and Kansas School Superintendent’s Association. Dr. Rick Doll, who was named executive director of KELI in July 2016, gave board members the update. KELI mentors and supports first- and second-year superintendents and principals or those new to Kansas. The organization also coordinates ongoing professional learning opportunities for district and school leaders.

•    Approved the 2017 board meeting dates. The board will meet on the second Tuesday and Wednesday of every month except for September when board members will meet Sept. 12-13.

•    Heard from Lt. Gov. Jeff Colyer, who spoke to the board about the Lt. Governor’s Community Service Award. Funding is secured through the next three years to bring student award winners to Topeka to receive the award and also to the Kansas State Fair. 



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