June 20, 2014

Denise Kahler, Director of Communications, 785-296-4876

For Immediate Release

Highlights of the June Kansas State Board of Education Meeting

 

TOPEKA – The Kansas State Board of Education (KSBE) is scheduled to vote next month whether to release the results of this year’s state assessments. Early testing problems, including a cyber-attack that attempted to shut down the system, impacted students taking the assessment during the period of March 10 - April 10. However, students who tested after April 10 were not impacted. At issue is the fairness of releasing results for some but not all Kansas students who took the assessment.

 

Kansas State Department of Education (KSDE) Director of Career Standards and Assessments Dr. Scott Smith and the Center for Educational Testing and Evaluation’s (CETE) Dr. Marianne Perie presented the board with recommendations from both the Technical Advisory Council (TAC), which met May 21-22 to determine what assessment results could be validly reported, and Kansas Assessment Advisory Council, which met June 3 to discuss how to map the Kansas Assessments onto a K-12 system. Both councils submitted independent recommendations that Kansas should not release any individual, school or district level assessment results, citing concerns that performance issues may have caused students to skip items and the possibility that students answered questions that they could not fully view.  Board Chair Jana Shaver reminded the board that the expectation was for this year to be a “trial run.” “Our goal all along was to test the system and the assessment so that we can make sure it is ready to go next year, said Shaver. I personally had hoped we would never release the results.” Both councils recommended releasing a few items at each grade for both subjects that exemplify areas where students excelled and where they struggled. Dr. Perie told the board that there is ample valid data collected for her staff to be able to conduct a thorough analysis of the assessment items.

 

Dr. Perie proposed having her group develop a sample assessment report and hold focus groups to see how teachers are interpreting the report. If teachers are not interpreting the report correctly, then there is a problem with the report and CETE would revise. Dr. Perie also proposed having the focus groups help develop the report that they will receive next spring.

 

Board members Jim McNiece and Deena Horst reported on their meeting with Interim Commissioner Brad Neuenswander and Innovative District representatives Randy Watson and Beverly Mortimer to discuss the future work of the KSBE and Innovative District Coalition. The goal of the meeting was to determine how to accommodate innovation in the districts while ensuring the oversight of the KSBE. The group drafted Kansas State Board of Education Innovative Districts Guidelines to provide a framework for how the two entities will work together. McNiece and Horst presented the draft guidelines to the board for its review. Once the guidelines are finalized and approved, they will be written into the bylaws of the coalition. The board voted to approve the applications for McPherson USD 418 and Concordia USD 333, under the guidelines developed, granting them the authority to operate as Public Innovative Districts.

 

The Kansas Legislature created the Coalition of Innovative Districts Act in 2013 to allow up to 10 percent of the state’s school districts to opt out of most state laws, rules and regulations in order to improve student achievement. During the 2014 legislative session, the law was amended to include an additional 10 percent of school districts that have Title I Focus Schools or Title I Priority Schools.  McPherson and Concordia were the first two districts approved by Governor Brownback and the chairs of the Senate and House Education Committees to form the Coalition of Innovative Districts Board.

 

The board voted to approve an increase in teacher license fees in order to cover KSDE’s increasing costs associated with processing license applications. Effective September 1, 2014, licensure application fees will be charged as follows:

License Type

Current Fee

Fee as of Sept. 1, 2014

Initial

$45

$60

Professional

$54

$70

Renewal

$54

$70

Out of State

$54

$70

 

 

 

KSDE Office of General Counsel staff member Scott Gordon presented the board with a recommendation to create a framework from which his office can work to approve licensure applications that would otherwise require a hearing before the Professional Practices Commission. Gordon requested this authority in anticipation of a significant increase in the number of criminal background checks once the changes in fingerprint requirements go into effect, which would greatly slow down the current approval process. With the board’s approval, The Office of General Counsel would be granted the authority to approve applicants whose criminal history is of a certain age and category that has commonly been approved by the Kansas State Board of Education. Gordon presented the board with a summary of cases heard by the PPC in the past 18 months, the types of applications that have not been approved and the reasons why those applications were not approved by the KSBE. The board will revisit this discussion at a future meeting.   

 

The 2014 legislature’s approval of Senate Bill 367 established the Student Data Privacy Act (SDPA), which places restrictions on the data contained within a student’s educational record that can be disclosed and to whom it may be disclosed. The bill requires that any student data submitted to and maintained by a statewide longitudinal student data system may be disclosed only to individuals or organizations outlined in the bill.  KSDE IT Director Kathy Gosa provided the board a high level review of the SDPA and its impact on current KSDE practices. Gosa explained that KSDE will follow the guidelines of both Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) and SDPA guidelines and will adhere to the policy that is more stringent in areas where the two diverge.

 

Impacts of SDPA on KSDE’s current practices include:

  • KSDE’s Data Sharing Agreement templates are being reviewed and revised.
  • Requests from researchers and other (non-agency) entities can no longer include any student data.
  • KSDE practices for handling security breaches and for transparency around data collection already align with SDPA.
  • School Districts must provide annual written notice that student data may be disclosed, obtain parent signatures, and maintain documents on file.
  • School Districts must obtain written consent from parent to “opt in” for release of Directory Information.

 

Deputy Commissioner Dale Dennis walked board members through the upcoming budget process. He reminded the board that the process has changed to a two-year budgeting cycle. Therefore, during the 2015 legislative session, state agency budgets will be approved for fiscal years 2016 and 2017. Dennis provided the board for its review the budget history and options for education aid programs. Final budget recommendations will be brought to the board at its July meeting. KSDE will continue to review in more detail the Tax Credit for Low Income Student Scholarship Program that was approved within 2014 Senate Substitute for House Bill 2506.

 

Dr. Stephanie Hirsh, executive director of Learning Forward, presented to board members the importance of professional learning and the critical role it plays in the implementation, sustainability, and connection between the multiple initiatives currently being undertaken in districts and schools. According to Hirsh, professional learning is not only the key strategy for closing achievement gaps among children, it also fosters collective responsibility for the success of all students. Hirsh is advising states to place greater emphasis on professional development by making it part of re-licensure requirements.

 

Representatives from McPherson and Jacobson LLC, the firm hired to conduct the search for the next Kansas Commissioner of Education, presented to the board the process they will follow. Board Chair Jana Shaver called for a special meeting of the board on June 25 to begin working through the process with the firm. The first steps will be for the board to identify the hiring criteria for the next commissioner.  Board members will consider information gathered during focus groups with community stakeholders across the state discussing the characteristics they believe are important for an education commissioner to possess.

 

The next regular meeting of the Kansas State Board of Education is scheduled for July 8-9 in Board Room 102 at the Landon State Office Building, 900 SW Jackson Street, Topeka, Kansas. The board will convene for a special meeting on June 25 in Board Room 102 at the Landon State Office Building to act to adopt temporary licensure regulations to comply with HB 2506.