Highlights of the July State Board of Education Meeting
TOPEKA – July 11, 2013 – The Kansas State Board of Education (KSBE) voted to request restoration of statutory funding in the amount of approximately $656,000,000 to the Fiscal Year 2015 budget for the Kansas State Department of Education (KSDE). The action came during the Board’s monthly meeting July 9-10 in Topeka. Restoration includes bringing funding back to the amount that was originally provided by statute in the areas of base state aid per pupil, supplemental general state aid, special education, professional development, school lunch, capital outlay state aid, and national board certification. The motion was approved on a 7-3 vote, with Board members Steve Roberts, Ken Willard, and John Bacon voting no. Board members unanimously voted to request funding, implemented over a five-year period, for all-day Kindergarten throughout the state. A motion to request restoration of funding for agricultural programs in the classroom and the Kansas Association of Conservation and Environmental Education was also approved on a 9-1 vote, with Board member Kathy Busch voting no.
In other business, the State Board unanimously approved the nominations of Judy Martin and Rob Scott to the Kansas State Special Education Advisory Council. This committee works collaboratively to provide leadership for continuous improvement of educational systems to ensure equity and enhance learning for all students in Kansas.
Commissioner of Education Diane DeBacker provided data on Kansas reading growth by third grade students. The challenge to educators is to get students reading at an early age because statistics show that students who start out behind generally stay behind. Board members also viewed a Kindergarten lesson on decomposing numbers, which portrayed examples of the higher standards in today’s classrooms, as well as an exceptional teacher who shows enthusiasm for teaching common standards.
Susan Helbert, assistant director of Teacher Licensure and Accreditation at KSDE, presented an overview of the licensing process. Of the approximately 20,000 licenses processed in the state each year, about 70 go through the appeals process with the Licensure Review Committee. Ed Raines, principal at Washburn Rural High School and vice chair of this committee, described it as the gatekeeper for Kansas kids to have good teachers.
Following several years of study and development, the Professional Standards Board adopted a new Kansas Educator Code of Conduct. Scott Myers, director of Teacher Licensure and Accreditation, shared information on the new code with Board members. The Kansas Educator Code of Conduct describes conduct related to three areas of educator responsibilities: to students, to districts, and to the profession. Brochures will be used to communicate the Code of Conduct to Kansas educators.
Board members received a number of updates stemming from the U.S. Department of Education’ approval last year of Kansas’ ESEA Flexibility Request, which granted waivers from certain provisions of the federal No Child Left Behind legislation and allows the state to implement a new and more meaningful accountability system for Kansas schools and school districts. Scott Smith, assistant director of Assessments at KSDE, reported on transitional assessments being developed to provide insight for teachers and students into the Kansas College and Career Ready Standards that describe what students should know and be able to do in content areas.
Colleen Riley, director of KSDE’s Early Childhood Special Education and Title Programs, and Sandy Guidry, assistant director, provided an update on the Kansas Learning Network (KLN). The network provides supports to districts and schools identified in the ESEA waiver as not meeting adequate yearly progress. During the first year of implementing the waiver, KLN assisted 99 focus and priority schools. Progress was evident in these school districts.
Brad Neuenswander, deputy commissioner of the KSDE Learning Services Division, presented an update on the ESEA waiver in regard to Principles 1, 2, and 3 during the 2013-2014 school year. He noted that full implementation of new evaluation instruments would occur in 2014-2015. KSDE staff is currently working on amending the waiver to extend it into the 2013-2014 school year with no conditions so that Kansas educators can use multiple measures to show student growth. The U.S. Department of Education is providing states two additional flexibility options. One prevents students from being double tested if they participate in a field test during the 2013-2014 school year, and the other allows educators to wait an additional year in using student growth data to inform personnel decisions. The deadline to apply for either option is September 30, 2013.
Matt Krehbiel, KSDE’s educational program consultant for math and science, outlined plans for supporting implementation of the Next Generation Science Standards. These plans include facilitating professional learning and revising existing curricula with a focus on bundling performance expectations into classroom experiences.
Board members had an opportunity to learn about 2013 House Bill 2261, legislation that became effective July 1 and designates the week containing September 17 as “Celebrate Freedom Week.” During this designated week, public schools are required to teach the history of the country’s founding to grades K-8 students. The bill also requires the Board to promote “Celebrate Freedom Week” and makes it responsible for adopting rules and regulations to require history and government curriculum for grades K-8.
The next meeting of the State Board of Education will be August 13-14 in Topeka.