KASB Advocacy Blog - Mark Tallman

KASB Advocacy Blog - Mark Tallman

Equity in Student Success – Part 3: Legislative Post Audit Studying At-Risk Funding

As noted in Part 1 of this series, students from lower income families (eligible for free or reduced-price meals) score much lower on reading and math tests and have lower graduation rates than higher income students. Part 2 showed how the state school finance formula provides additional funding for students based on the number of low-income students, but districts use that funding to help any at-risk students, regardless of income. This part reports how Legislative auditors are studying that system of extra funding to school districts to help students at risk of poor academic performance or dropping out of school. The...

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Increasing student needs drive special education costs and staff shortage

Rising numbers of young children with severe behavioral, emotional and mental health needs and speech and language issues are driving up school district costs and worsening an already critical shortage of qualified staff and services. That was the assessment of education leaders at three KASB workshops on the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act held in Topeka, Dodge City and Salina at the end of August. Chip Slaven, Chief Advocacy Officers for the National School Boards Association, spoke at the workshops on NSBA’s push to update and fully fund IDEA. He said Congress is considering “reauthorizing” – a review that can...

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Report says broadband access improvements needed for education, opportunity and economic development 

A new report from the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas warns that unequal broadband access for low income and rural communities creates disparities in education, opportunity and economic development, and indicates that government and community agencies will have to take stronger action to address these issues.  The report comes as a task force established by the Kansas Legislature is studying the issue. It also supports investments Kansas schools have made in student technology, such as one-to-one computers or tables, to teach digital skills.  According to the report, just 53 percent of adults with incomes less than $30,000 have broadband at home, compared with 95 percent of those with incomes above $75,000.  Nearly 68 percent of those without broadband...

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Kansas Leadership Center spotlights promise and perils of school redesign

It is the most ambitious attempt to change Kansas public education –a system that serves 90 percent of school-aged children in Kansas and their families and touches every Kansas community – in decades, maybe ever. It could give Kansas educators a renewed sense of passion or burn them out. It could energize and personalize learning for Kansas students or turn them off and tune them out. It could engage parents or infuriate them. It could make local school leaders heroes or boot them out of their positions. In fact, all of these things are or may be happening, and it...

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New studies show positive impact of increased funding on education outcomes

During the recent Kansas debate over a school funding, a common question was whether more money will improve student results. Kansas courts have essentially agreed it does, based on multiple Kansas cost studies, evidence at trial, and past results. There is growing evidence from national researchers to back up the link between funding and student success. A new post from Chalkbeat cites four more recent national studies suggesting Kansas can be optimistic that additional funding will improve achievement, especially among lower income students who have more serious barriers to success (as discussed in this previous post). Daniel Kreisman and Matthew P....

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Equity in Student Success – Part 2: How Kansas funds extra support for at-risk students

As noted in Part 1 of this series, students from lower income families (eligible for free or reduced-price meals) score much lower on reading and math tests and have lower graduation rates than higher income students. This part shows how the state school finance formula provides additional funding for students based on the number of low-income students, but districts use that funding to help any at-risk students, regardless of income. Current at-risk funding is based on the number of lower income students, but the students actually receiving services are identified mostly based on academic factors. The Kansas school finance formula provides...

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Back to school highlights: more excitement than usual this year

As nearly half a million Kansas public school students return to class for 2019-20, here are some highlights of a new school year. Higher goals for students. Nearly 90 percent of students now graduate from high school “on time” in four years. That is the highest rate ever, and graduation requirements are higher than ever before. However, over 70 percent of future jobs are expected to require more than a high school diploma alone. Kansas employers already report shortages of qualified workers in many areas. To increase the number of students going on to successful complete postsecondary training, schools are working...

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Annual PDK survey of public attitudes on education underscore Kansas issues

The 51st annual PDK Poll of the Public’s Attitudes Towards the Public Schools was released this week. While the results are drawn from national surveys and may not reflect Kansas sentiments, the survey offers a guide to possible attitudes on current topics in Kansas. Here are some of the highlights of the report. Teachers feel underpaid, undervalued, frustrated with the profession and half have considered leaving it. Over half say they would consider going on strike. Big majorities of all adults say they would support teachers striking for higher pay or to have a greater voice in academic policies. Kansas: Perhaps...

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Striving for a giant leap in education

Fifty years after Apollo 11 made that giant leap to the moon, Kansas education leaders are seeking an equally audacious goal: transforming public schools to dramatically boost student success. Two years after the Kansas State Board of Education began the Kansans Can “Moonshot” school redesign program, over 250 educators from 19 districts and 41 schools met at the KASB office in Topeka this week as part of the “Apollo” group. The mission is to design new ways of operating schools, so Kansas leads the world in the success of each student. The message from KASB Leadership Services Field Representative Dr. Doug...

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Great day in Goddard: inspiration, education and validation we are on the right track

I was invited to speak on K-12 education issues and trends at the Goddard USD 265 Educational Retreat on July 31. I was honored and asked if I could sit in on the morning session: discussion on the district’s emerging strategic plan for the next five years. It turned out to be one of the best days of the summer: inspirational as an advocate for public education; educational from what l learned from other participants; and validating a message of how new resources and school redesign can support measurable changes in student success for a stronger Kansas. Let’s take each in...

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