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August 2011 State Board News

Kansas Schools Continue to Improve

84% of Kansas public schools met or exceeded AYP targets for 2011, despite increases in those targets from the previous year.  In all, 1,148 schools and 211 USDs met the targets.

“Kansas teachers work very very hard and are increasingly sophisticated in their ability to use assessment results to individualize learning for students,” explained Dr. Tom Foster, director of career, standards and assessment services.

“The sad thing is that many schools that did not make AYP did show tremendous progress in student learning, just not enough to reach these artificial targets,” said Dr. Blake West, KNEA president.

“We look forward to the time when Kansas can use a growth model and appropriately recognize the hard work of every Kansas educator and student,” he continued.

AYP must be determined for every school building, every USD and every state.  Kansas missed AYP this year because of one subgroup performance in math and two subgroups in reading.

State Board members are expected to apply for waivers to AYP for the 2011-12 school year, announced recently by Secretary of Education Arnie Duncan.  The requirements for those waivers should be released in September and states will have about two months to prepare their requests.

Duncan indicated that requirements will mirror the four categories required for Race to the Top funds: adoption of a common set of college/career ready standards; attention to teacher/principal quality; a growth model; and a ‘robust’ data system.

State Board members spent considerable time discussing the involvement of the federal government in state education systems and questioned whether it was worth it for the $110m in Title 1 funds that Kansas receives.

“I feel like we have prostituted ourselves, excuse the term, for the money because we are so fearful of the side effects of losing the money,” said board member Ken Willard.

“I have the highest regard for schools and teachers that are doing extraordinary things [in reading and mathematics] with students, but that can’t be sole focus for 12 years of school and result in educated students,” he continued.

Board members are expected to continue discussion of federal mandates and waivers for AYP at their September meeting.

In other action, the State Board:

·       Approved supporting AYP waiver requests [similar to McPherson’s] from USD 224, Clifton-Clyde and USD 500, KCK.

·       Heard additional information about growth models.

·       Approved continuing work to support teaching of financial literacy.

·       Approved Ed Flex waivers for

o   USD 357, Belle Plaine

o   USD 489, Hays

·       Approved the final year of a contract with New Teacher Center at UC-Santa Cruz for training teacher mentors.

September State Board Meeting

The next meeting of the State Board of Education is scheduled for Tuesday and Wednesday, September 13 and 14, in Topeka.  Meeting agenda and materials should be available on the KSDE website no later than Tuesday, September 6.

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