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Kansas State Board of Education February Highlights: Board approves changes to teaching licensing regulations

Kansas State Board of Education members honored two Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) schools at their February meeting, discussed proposed regulatory changes that reflect recently approved changes to graduation requirements, and approved changes to teaching licensing regulations.

The State Council met February 14-15 in Topeka.

Kansas Education Commissioner Dr. Randy Watson began Tuesday’s meeting with his Commissioner’s Report.

Watson spoke about actions the State Council has taken to help Kansas high school graduates succeed, such as setting rigorous academic standards in English-language arts, math, and science; approve high scores for state assessments; and establishing, with the assistance of the Kansas Legislature, a dyslexia position in the Kansas State Department of Education (KSDE) to assist school districts in implementing the science of reading. The Council has also allocated more than $16 million to train teachers in reading science and mathematics.

Watson highlighted Chetopa-St. Paul Unified School District 505 for district improvement in the areas of high school graduation rates and postsecondary effectiveness. The district has “made substantial gains from where it was,” Watson said. For example, in 2016, the district had an 88.1% graduation rate. By 2022, it had risen to 94.4%.

The district had a 2015 postsecondary efficacy rate of 48%. It increased to 55.7% by 2020.

State Board of Education members adopted proposed amendments to teacher licensing regulations, including changing the names of some licenses, adding endorsements, and eliminating some requirements.

Changes include:

  • Eliminated the requirement of a currently valid teaching license for an out-of-state applicant. An out-of-state educator must be licensed in the state where the program was completed. However, the out-of-state educator can still apply for a Kansas teaching license with an out-of-state license that has expired.
  • Eliminated the requirement for a professional level teaching license to qualify for a school counselor license.
  • Creating a limited use license. The license is equivalent to a restricted teaching license, but is even more restrictive.
  • Driver Education was added as an endorsement to a teaching license.
  • Support for general math and advanced math has been created.
  • A mid-level generalist approval has been created.
  • An additional requirement has been created for the following specializations: English Speakers of Other Languages ​​​​(ESOL); FAC; agriculture; and technology and engineering education. In addition to passing a content exam, you must complete the content-specific professional learning and professional learning assessment.

Tate Toedman, deputy director of KSDE’s Special Education and Title Services (SETS) team, introduced the two Every Student Successes Act (ESEA) Distinguished Schools of 2022: Hillsboro Elementary School, Durham-Hillsboro-Lehigh USD 410 and Westview Elementary School, Olathe USD 233.

Clint Corby, superintendent of Durham-Hillsboro-Lehigh USD 410, and Nathan Hiebert, principal of Hillsboro Elementary, told the board the school serves 313 students in grades pre-K-5. 47 percent of the Hillsboro Elementary School student body is eligible for free and reduced-price meals. Hillsboro Elementary School has been recognized in Category 1 – Outstanding Student Achievement for two or more consecutive years.

Hiebert shared insights into the importance of stakeholder engagement, quality education, intentional relationships, and high-quality staff members. The school uses the Project Lead the Way program, she added.

Cindy Kapeller, principal of Westview Elementary School, discussed the school’s culture shift. Westview was recognized in Category 2 – Bridging the Achievement Gap Between Student Groups.

Council members accepted recommendations from the Commissioner’s Task Force for Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) and Emergency Assistance Non-Public Schools (EANS) Cash Distributions to approve district spending plans for ESSER III and ESSER II change requests.

Doug Boline, deputy director of KSDE’s SETS team, said there were 19 ESSER II exchange applications from districts, representing 11,726 students. The plan includes 367 individual cost items budgeted for a total value of $5.8 million. Of the $343.5 million earmarked for ESSER II, $340.7 million (99%) was approved by the State Council with $2.4 million remaining.

Twenty-one districts submitted ESSER III plans, representing 13,514 students. The plans included 469 budgeted individual expenses for a total of $18.6 million considered eligible expenses. Eighteen districts submitted ESSER III change plans, representing 20,585 students. The change plans included 469 individual budgeted expenses totaling $38.9 million.

Of the $768.1 million awarded for ESSER III, $617.1 million (80%) was approved for the award, with $125.6 million (16%) remaining, $18.6 million ( 3%) under review and $6.8 million (1%) in change requests.

Deputy Commissioner Dr. Craig Neuenswander provided members of the State Board of Education with an update on the House and Senate bills that the KSDE has been following.

Dr. Laurie Curtis, Early Literacy/Dyslexia Program Lead for KSDE’s Career, Standards and Assessment Services (CSAS) team, shared a presentation on the Kansas Science of Reading.

The “science of reading” is not a curriculum, Curtis said. It is a body of knowledge that informs what is known about how the brain works when learning to read. Dyslexia is neurobiological in origin, a difference in how the brain connects language and print. This is evidenced by students who have specific difficulties in decoding and encoding the alphabetic system.

Dyslexia isn’t uncommon in students and isn’t caused by a poor education, Curtis said. However, it can be influenced by a good education. Early identification of risk and intervention are important.

Curtis also discussed the current screening protocol and the challenges that come with it; training required for dyslexia; and professional learning.

State Board of Education members accepted the Accreditation Review Council (ARC) recommendation and approved accreditation through Kansas Education Systems Accreditation (KESA) for six districts:

  • Pittsburgh USD 250
  • Plainville USD 270
  • Hesston USD 460
  • Geary County USD 475
  • Satanta USD 507
  • Kansas Blind School

In the 2022-2023 school year, 179 systems (157 public, one state and 21 private) are expected to be accredited.

In January, the ARC fulfilled and determined accreditation recommendations for 13 systems:

  • Trego Community Schools USD 208, accredited.
  • Burlington USD 244, credited.
  • Frontenac USD 249, accredited.
  • Wellsville USD 289, credited.
  • Circle USD 375, accredited.
  • Riley County USD 378, credited.
  • Manhattan-Ogden USD 383, credited.
  • Inman USD 448, credited.
  • Ingalls USD 477, credited.
  • Chetopa-St. Paul USD 505, credited.
  • Labette County USD 506, accredited.
  • Andor Islamic School, accredited.
  • Stafford USD 349, conditionally credited.

The State Council is expected to act on the recommendations during its monthly meeting in March 2023.

KSDE General Counsel Scott Gordon discussed the rule updates that will need to be made to reflect the new degree requirements.

Proposed changes include removing outdated terms and updating others, and updating credit requirements for the following units: English-language arts, history and government, science, mathematics, fine arts, electives, and physical education, as well as the addition of half a unit of financial literacy.

Other changes include the addition of:

  • Obtain two or more Kansas State Board of Education approved results demonstrating the pupil will be a successful Kansas high school graduate.
  • Free Completion of Federal Student Aid Application (FAFSA): One of the following, unless exempted by the Chief Administrative Officer:
  • File FAFSA with the US Department of Education or;
  • On a form created by the State Council, file a waiver with the governing body indicating that a parent or guardian or, if the pupil is 18 or older or legally emancipated, the pupil understands what FAFSA is and has chosen not to apply to.

These proposed regulatory changes will be discussed again at the March meeting with potential actions in April.

Members of the State Board of Education approved the signing of a joint resolution with the Kansas Board of Regents regarding dual-credit courses. The resolution means that both entities formally agree that students should receive college credit in the subject areas most closely aligned with KBOR-approved disciplines regardless of which public post-secondary educational institution taught the course.

KSDE’s Amanda Petersen, Director of Early Childhood, presented information on the work KSDE’s Early Childhood team has been involved in, including the All In For Kansas Kids Strategic Plan, Early Childhood Partnerships and Kindergarten Brochure in Kansas.

The Kindergarten in Kansas booklet is for families of young children who are preparing to start kindergarten. More than 46,000 free copies have been distributed since August 2021.

Niomi Ndirangu, Miss Kansas Outstanding Teen 2022, shared her message on the importance of seizure first aid and epilepsy education with board members.

On Wednesday, February 15, State Council members met at the Kansas State High School Activities Association (KSHSAA) for a retreat.

Doug Moeckel and Dr. Brian Jordan of the Kansas Association of School Boards led the retreat. Board members spent time in groups answering questions posed by Moeckel and Jordan. They discussed what the role of the Council of State is; topics that can create unity of purpose for the Council; collective behaviors of high-performing boards; and culture.

The next meeting of the State Board of Education will be held March 14-15.

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