March 14, 2014

For Immediate Release



Highlights of the March Kansas State Board

of Education Meeting




TOPEKA – The 2014 Kansas state assessment window opened Monday, March 10, piloting the state’s first assessment fully aligned to the Kansas College and Career Ready Standards adopted in 2010. Kansas State Department of Education Deputy Commissioner of Learning Services Brad Neuenswander provided members of the Kansas State Board of Education an update on the assessment launch. While the assessment itself is being well received, some districts have reported issues with the platform delivering the assessment. Neuenswander reminded board members that identifying and correcting any software performance issues early were among the driving forces behind the field’s decision to pilot the new system a year in advance of what the state’s waiver required.


The Center for Education Testing and Evaluation, which developed what is being referred to as the transition assessment, also developed the KITE test engine through which the assessment is administered. Neuenswander and Dr. Scott Smith, KSDE director of Career Standards and Assessment Services, praised CETE for its work to deliver the new system a year early and its immediate actions to correct any issues identified by districts. To contextualize for the board the leap in sophistication of the new system developed by CETE, Education Commissioner Dr. Diane DeBacker used the analogy of moving from a pencil-and-paper test to a computerized test.


Said Neuenswander, “For many Kansas educators and parents, this is the first time they have ever experienced piloting a completely new state assessment, so naturally there is some anxiety about the unknown. We are respectful of this and are doing our best to provide regular communications in order to alleviate this anxiety.”


To that end, the board voted to extend school accreditations through the 2014-2015 school year and stressed that no determinations will be made from the results of the 2104 assessments. Once the assessment window closes on May 2, experts will convene to begin the work of analyzing results, measuring the validity of all assessment items and setting cut scores.  KSDE anticipates being able to provide schools with their assessment results in August 2014.


In addition to approving accreditation for all schools next year, the board approved the Quality Performance Accreditation Advisory Council’s recommendation to continue the use of Annual Measurable Objectives (AMOs) in place of Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP). AYP was the single percent proficient performance measurement established under the former No Child Left Behind Act, whereas AMOs provide a multi-dimensional look at student achievement including academic performance, academic growth, proficiency gap reduction, and reduction in the percentage of students scoring below proficiency.


Board members took the next step towards amending the criminal history records check regulation 91-1-214 by approving submission of the amendment to the Department of Administration and the Office of Attorney General for review. The amendment would require all teachers who have not previously submitted fingerprints to the Kansas State Board of Education to do so upon application for license renewal. As of 2002, all new applicants for a Kansas teaching certificate or license are required to submit a complete set of fingerprints. However, it is estimated that more than 30,000 educators in Kansas licensed prior to 2002 do not have fingerprints on file.


Board members asked for clarification on the process required to amend a recommendation. Gordon explained that once the Department of Administration and the Office of Attorney General approve the amended regulation (assuming no changes are needed), KSDE will publish notice of a public hearing at least 60 days prior to that hearing for the purpose of receiving written public comments during that time.  Notice is published in the Kansas Registrar and provided to the Secretary of State.  The Secretary of State forwards the proposed amendment to the Joint Committee on Administrative Rules and Regulations for review, after which KSDE will host a public hearing. Once the State Board approves the final version of the regulation, they are filed with the Secretary of State who publishes them in the Kansas Registrar and the regulation would go into effect 15 days after publication.


Deputy Commissioner Dale Dennis and School Finance Director Craig Neuenswander provided the board with a legislative update. The Senate is currently considering SB22, which would provide low income students or students with IEPs and who transferred from a public to a private school eligibility to receive corporate education tax credit scholarships. The total tax credits are limited to $10 million and the bill applies to any private non-public school. Tax credits received by corporations would be deposited into scholarship granting organizations. If the amount contributed to a scholarship granting organization exceeds $50,000, the organization must provide a surety bond to the Kansas State Board of Education. KSBE must keep records of all scholarship granting organizations and all dollars granted.


Others bills being considered in the Senate include SB277, which calls for extending the computation of the Local Option Budget using a base state aid per pupil of $4,433 through June 30, 2019. Current law will expire on June 30, 2014. If this bill is not passed, it will reduce supplemental general state aid by more than $100 million.  SB305 calls for bond issues approved after June 30, 2014 to no longer be eligible for capital improvement state aid. The revenue that would have been used to pay the state aid portion of those bonds approved after June 30, 2014 would be transferred to the supplemental general fund. SB335 would require that on or before January 1, 2015, local boards of education implement a reasonable suspicion drug screening program for their employees. The bill requires the Kansas State Department of Education to establish and implement an impaired teacher program for teachers dependent on drugs, alcohol or both. The bill requires all applicants for initial or renewal of a teaching license to submit fingerprints – a one-time requirement. SB341, which calls for a five-year phase in of all-day kindergarten funding, to date had not been moved out of committee.


House bills being monitored include HB2227, which calls for moving the election for local board of education to November of odd-numbered years and board members taking office in January. This bill has been referred to the Committee on Elections. HB2289 prohibits school districts and the State Department of Education from expending any funds on common core state standards. There is currently no action on this bill. HB2454 provides that school districts may enter another school district to pick up students if the students live more than 10 miles from home to school the distance in current law is 2.5 miles. To date, no action has been taken on this bill. HB2456 would change the assessed valuation of cement plants and lower the valuation significantly for Chanute and Humboldt school districts. A hearing was set for March 12, 2014. HB2475 would have called for a personal financial literacy program to become a high school graduation requirement. However, the bill was amended and no longer requires a separate course of instruction for personal financial literacy. Instead, standards will be integrated into other courses and assessed on the math and social studies state assessments. The bill requires KSBE to report to the Legislature on the state assessment items related to personal financial literacy.


The next meeting of the Kansas State Board of Education is scheduled for April 8-9, 2014 in the Landon State Office Building.