The Kansas State Board of Education held their monthly meeting in Topeka last week.
In addition to routine items on their agenda (such as consideration of requests for teacher licensure waivers), the board had a full two-day schedule.
Two items on the agenda were significant from an education policy standpoint. First, board members heard a presentation on the Next Generation Science Standards. Also, they heard a report on the state’s request for a waiver of requirements of the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act.
Kansas is one of 26 states participating in drafting new science standards based on a framework developed by a team of scientists associated with the National Research Council. According to the timeline, a first draft of the standards should become public sometime in the next few weeks. However, until that time, everyone involved in the project — including 10 Kansas City metropolitan area residents — has agreed to keep the contents confidential. The goal is to complete the new standards by the end of this year.
In addition to learning about the status of science standards, state board members also heard an update on the flexibility waiver request. Most educators agree with the intent of NCLB, which is to narrow achievement gaps among advantaged and disadvantaged public school students. However, the goal of 100 percent proficiency on state standardized tests by 2014 appears to be unrealistic. States applying for waivers must devise an alternate way for schools to demonstrate student academic progress. Because Congress is overdue on reauthorizing NCLB, U.S. Department of Education Secretary Arne Duncan has said states may apply for waivers. The application deadline Kansas is targeting is February 21.
Last week, the board met on Tuesday and Wednesday, Jan. 10-11. In addition to holding the monthly meeting, board members had invitations to attend Gov. Sam Brownback’s State of the State address Wednesday evening.
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