The Kansas State Board of Education met Tuesday, Feb. 12 and Wednesday, Feb. 13.
From a policy standpoint, the highlights of their agenda were:
- An announcement that the state department of education will cooperate with the State Highway Patrol to offer Active Shooter Training to public school employees. According to Diane DeBacker, state education commissioner, “An active shooter is anyone who has the intent of killing lots of people at one time.” She added that “We could probably guarantee them a packed room” at each training session.
- A report on meetings being held across Kansas to obtain feedback regarding the use of multiple measures of student growth and achievement in teacher and principal evaluations. When the federal government waived the requirements of the No Child Left Behind Act for Kansas, one of the conditions was that the state change its evaluation system for certified staff.
- A report on bills under consideration in the state legislature addressing student reading skills and retention. These are House Bill 2004 and Senate Bill 169 (which puts Gov. Sam Brownback’s Reads to Succeed initiative in legislative form). In his State of the State speech earlier this month, the governor announced plans to shift about $9 million from early childhood education programs to a proposed new reading initiative that will cost about $12 million in total. In his speech, the governor said:
No child should pass the 4th grade without being able to read. If a child cannot read, her world closes in. If she can read, her world expands.
However, education research generally shows that holding students back a grade level does not help students achieve academically and that retained students are at increased risk of dropping out of school.
- A report on Gov. Brownback’s proposal to bring Jobs for America’s Graduates (JAG) — a state-based national non-profit organization dedicated to preventing dropouts among young people who are most at-risk — to a couple dozen schools in Kansas with high dropout and low graduation rates as well as high rates of teen pregnancy. JAG requires that all students in each participating high school devote an hour every school day to its program. Regarding this proposal, the education commissioner said:
I cautioned the governor’s staff and department for children and families that when you have only six periods a day, there’s not a lot of wiggle room in a student’s schedule in high school.
- A public hearing on proposed emergency safety interventions that may be used to seclude or physically restrain students who may be a danger to themselves or others. Later in the day the board considered approving the proposed changes to emergency safety interventions regulations 91-42-1 and 91-42-2.
- Considered a recommendation to replace Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) with Quality Performance Accreditation (QPA) with the four Annual Measurable Objectives (AMOs) that were a condition of the Kansas Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) Flexibility Waiver. According to the agenda:
For the past few years, the Quality Performance Accreditation (QPA) Advisory Council has been examining the accreditation system for the State of Kansas so as to create a system that would provide a better basis for the educational experience for the students of the state. Simultaneously, Kansas received approval for its Flexibility Waiver from the Elementary and Secondary Education Act as it relates to the achievement targets of QPA, moving to a system utilizing the four Annual Measurable Objectives (AMOs). The recommendation from the QPA Advisory Council allows all Kansas schools to retire the AYP targets and adhere to the AMO system.
- An update on Kansas’ participation in development of the proposed voluntary new Next Generation Science standards.
- An update on career and technical education and a new state law designed to encourage the enrollment of high school students in community or technical colleges. According to the agenda:
It provides all high school students free tuition for technical education courses taken at nearby technical and community colleges. It also establishes an incentive program for school districts to get students involved in career and technical education prior to graduating from high school The incentive will give each school district $1,000 for each high school student who graduates from that district with an industry recognized credential in a high-need occupation, as identified by the Kansas Secretary of Labor.
- A presentation about a new bullying advisory council being created by the Kansas Children’s Service League (KCSL) as a result of their work with the Kansas Bullying Hotline.
- An update on development of new state standards for history, government and social studies. According to the agenda:
This document is designed to assist History, Government, and Social Studies educators in Kansas as they develop these skills in their students. The writing committee reviewed other state and national standards, researched best instructional practices and gathered input from professionals and citizens in order to define what Kansas students should know and be able to do in history, civics/government, geography, and economics. The committee responded to feedback on earlier versions throughout the current process. This revised document focuses on discipline-specific habits of mind that encourage the application of content in authentic situations rather than specific content, and is intended as a framework for curriculum, instruction, assessment, and teacher preparation.
- A presentation by state board member Ken Willard who served as chairman of the governor’s School Efficiency Task Force. In his report, Willard said:
This task force had very little time, no budget and no authority. … We didn’t have the time nor the resources nor the staff to dig into these issues in any depth. Many of these require more study before anything would be implemented from it.
When the rest of the board members had an opportunity to comment, Jim McNiece of Wichita said:
Ken, I want to thank you for taking the lead on this and accepting the governor’s challenge. It put you in a horrible position. Is he your friend?
Willard’s response of “I’m not sure” inspired a lot of laughter.
After which, McNiece went on to comment:
Regrettably I think some people — and I won’t judge their motives — have hijacked some of your information and said this is what the committee has said. and taken it to a level of gospel rather than as we need more study as you said.
You can view archived videos of this board meeting: http://www.ksde.org/Default.aspx?tabid=1958
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