State Board of Ed

More counselors, social workers in Kansas schools

In his monthly report to the State Board of Education, Kansas Education Commissioner Randy Watson said the high school graduation rate continues to rise and schools have made great strides in hiring more social workers and counselors. Over the past two years, schools have added 132 counselors, an 11 percent increase, and 133 social workers, a 26 percent increase. Meanwhile, since 2015, the high school graduation rate has increased to 87.5 percent from 85.7 percent, while subgroups have increased as well. English Language learners increased to 82.6 percent from 77.2 percent; students who receive free or reduced lunch increased to 80.2 percent,...

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State Board of Education praises bullying task force report

State Board of Education members Tuesday praised a task force report on bullying that recommends a wide range of strategies to reduce bullying in schools. Board Chair Kathy Busch said the report “lays out a lot of good recommendations.” Here is a link to the report. Board member Ben Jones said bullying, “affects every single kid and I’m looking forward to moving the needle on this.” The 35-member task force was appointed by Education Commissioner Randy Watson in April and held a series of public meetings across the state, hearing from students, teachers, social service leaders and others. Rick Ginsberg, dean of the...

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State Board of Education clamps down on e-cigs, vaping

The State Board of Education on Tuesday approved a policy aimed at prohibiting at school the use of e-cigarettes by students, school staff and visitors. The policy forwarded to Kansas school districts expands prohibitions on tobacco products to e-cigs, vape pens and any other electronic products that can deliver nicotine. Schools across the nation and Kansas have reported an explosive increase in vaping among students from elementary to high school. Deaths and serious health problems have been associated with vaping as has an increase in addiction problems. Nationwide, lung injuries associated with vaping have resulted in 48 deaths in 25 states and...

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Audit raises issues in at-risk funding; KSDE defends practices

The Kansas Legislative Post Audit Division released a report Monday criticizing the State Department of Education’s oversight and guidance of the state’s $413 million program to support academically at-risk students. KSDE strongly disagreed.  The audit is one of series of studies commissioned by the Kansas Legislature in response to the Gannon school finance case. At-risk funding is particularly important because a key part of the Gannon case was that too many Kansas students are failing to meet state academic standards.  In addition, the “high density” at-risk weighting factor, which accounts for about $50 million in at-risk aid targeted at districts with higher...

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State Board of Education taking up vaping regulations, anti-bullying recommendations

Two major challenges facing public schools will be worked on Tuesday by the State Board of Education. The State Board will act on recommendations from the E-Cigarette/Vaping Task Force and receive recommendations from the Blue Ribbon Task Force on Bullying. Here is a link to the board’s agenda and backup documents. The board meeting will be streamed live at this link. The vaping discussion is expected to start around 11:25 a.m. and the bullying discussion at 2:10 p.m. After the board meeting, KASB will conduct a video interview with the bullying task force co-chairs — Dr. Rick Ginsberg, dean of the College...

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Kansas Blue Ribbon Task Force on Bullying finalizes report

The Kansas Blue Ribbon Task Force on Bullying on Monday finalized its report, offering a wide range of recommendations aimed at helping schools reduce bullying. The report says schools should provide a safe and caring environment and that anti-bullying plans must address the differing needs of staff and students identified by sex, gender identity and expression, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, disability, religious faith and socio-economic status. The task force also recommends new resources of funding for more mental health workers in schools. The task force’s work will be presented to the State Board of Education on Dec. 10 and then later...

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Kansas youth trends show decrease in cigarette smoking but increase in vaping

The percentage of high school students who smoke cigarettes has dropped but the percentage who have used electronic vapor products, such as e-cigarettes, has increased dramatically, according to trend data in the 2019 Kansas Youth Risk Behavior Survey.  The results indicate that decades of warnings about the health dangers of cigarette smoking seem to have worked but that progress may be undermined by the rise in recent years of vaping.  In recent months, several deaths across the country, including Kansas, have been blamed, in part, on vaping and health officials are seeing a wave of young people becoming newly addicted to...

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Short-term student achievement levels show mixed results

Although Kansas long-term educational attainment (adult high school completion, postsecondary participation and four-year college degrees) has continued to increase, shorter term measures like grade-level assessments have been distinctly mixed.  Kansas Education Commissioner Randy Watson has been briefing the State Board of Education on these results, and with Board Chair Kathy Bush, recorded this video on performance results for KASB.  In brief: state reading and math assessments are basically flat for the past two years after several years of decline, but national tests of a sample of Kansas students are down. ACT college readiness scores are down, but more students are taking...

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KASB Live: Watson, Busch talk about Kansas test scores, other measurements

Kansas Education Commissioner Randy Watson and State Board of Education Chairwoman Kathy Busch explained how Kansas analyzes multiple data points to determine how students are doing. The KASB Live interview with Mark Tallman, associate executive director advocacy and communications, can be seen here. “We are trying to look at the multiple pieces of data,” to determine if students are prepared to succeed after high school,” said Watson. “Test scores are important … but what you really have to do is look at multiple data points,” Busch said. Education officials are considering state assessments, ACT, SAT, Advanced Placement scores and the number of students...

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State Board of Education considering policy, possible ban on vaping

Kansas students couldn’t use, possess or promote any tobacco products, including e-cigarettes, at school or at any school event, under a proposal before the State Board of Education. The measure would also ban visitors to schools, such as parents, volunteers and vendors, from using tobacco products or e-cigs. The State Board received the recommendation Tuesday from the E-Cigarette/Vaping Task Force as a policy that could be recommended to Kansas school districts. But several board members said they may want to make the proposal a requirement. The board will consider the measure next month. The proposal comes forward as officials have reported health...

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