Teacher Issues

State Board approves wide-ranging policies on dyslexia

The State Board of Education on Tuesday unanimously approved policies aimed at improving the identification of students with dyslexia, providing them with better services and increasing teacher training. The wide-ranging measures follow more than 18 months of discussion by educators, advocates, psychologists and other stakeholders and will require more funding, although a specific amount wasn’t cited. Board member Jim Porter, who had led a task force on dyslexia, said the policies are needed and represent compromises. “This is a nationwide movement and we are slow to come to the table,” Porter said. Cynthia Hadicke, an education program consultant for the Kansas State...

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Vaping, dyslexia, legislative agenda on tap for State Board of Education meeting

The State Board of Education on Tuesday will receive recommendations on curbing e-cigarette use and improving ways to help students with dyslexia. Here is a link to the State Board’s agenda and background materials. The E-Cigarette/Vaping Task Force will provide a final draft on keeping tobacco and vaping products out of schools. The task force will also update the board on the Tobacco 21 initiative, which would increase the minimum age in Kansas to purchase tobacco products, including e-cigarettes, from 18 to 21. The dyslexia recommendations are aimed at improving pre-service teacher programs, professional learning of teachers already in the classroom, screening...

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Threat assessment key to preventing school violence, new report says

A team approach — including the work of local school boards — is needed to help students in distress and prevent school violence, according to an in-depth analysis by the U.S. Secret Service released Thursday. “While communities can advance many school safety measures on their own, our experience tells us that keeping schools safe requires a team effort and the combined resources of the federal, state, and local governments; school boards; law enforcement; and the public,” U.S. Secret Service Director James M. Murray said. The study, which analyzed 41 incidents of targeted school violence from 2008-17, promotes increased mental health awareness,...

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KASB Legislative Committee finalizes draft report

The KASB Legislative Committee has approved its draft recommendations on legislative policy provisions.  The proposals will now go to the Delegate Assembly for a vote on Sunday, Dec. 8 during the KASB Annual Conference in Wichita. Once approved by the Delegate Assembly, the report will guide KASB on issues that arise before the Kansas Legislature and on the federal level.   Here is a link to the draft document. Proposed changes from last year’s resolutions are shown in red.  The draft report includes additional statements on the education of immigrant students, vaping, bullying, Medicaid, federal special education funding and teacher recruitment and...

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Bullying task force hears from students, counselors

High school students on Wednesday said a good way to reduce bullying in schools is for educators to make students feel worthwhile. The seven students from Lawrence High School and Free State High School told the Blue Ribbon Task Force on Bullying Prevention that they frequently see bullying behavior at their schools and that it often goes unaddressed by teachers and administrators. And they said the bullying behavior is probably less physical than in past generations, but more socially-oriented with bullies manipulating and insulting students, especially on social media. When asked what educators can do to help stop bullying, the students said...

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Education leaders work on cultural proficiency at KASB workshop

Education leaders met Wednesday evening to learn about ways to raise awareness about the cultural diversity within their school districts and to make sure school policies applaud and respect those differences.   During the Cultural Proficiency Workshop, led by KASB Field Specialist Craig Wilford, attendees talked about the need to ensure that different races, ethnicities and gender are represented fairly in all aspects of school operations, including textbooks, curriculum, staffing and discipline. School leaders should also recognize differing perspectives in developing class rules and school advisory committees.  Wilford noted that one reason cultural proficiency is important is because “Who we are...

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Threat Assessment Team Training to make schools safer, help students

More than 100 officials from across Kansas on Monday participated in school Threat Assessment Team Training hosted by KASB. Threat Assessment has been touted as a way to prevent violence by creating teams within schools that will determine if any student conduct constitutes a real threat and work with all students on conflict resolution, bullying prevention and mental health. Oftentimes, instances of school shootings result in calls by the public and officials to harden facilities with metal detectors, video surveillance and other security measures, such as arming teachers. However, Frank Zenere, school psychologist and district coordinator of Student Services/Crisis Program for Miami-Dade...

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Dyslexia recommendations before State Board of Education

A wide range of recommendations are before the State Board of Education to address students with dyslexia. “We are already doing a lot of good things; we just have to be more strategic,” State Board Chairwoman Kathy Busch said. Several other board members said the proposed changes are substantial, will require more work for educators and additional funding but are necessary. “We have to catch kids before they fail,” Board member Jim Porter said. The recommendations were recently outlined by Cindy Hadicke, who is an education program consultant at the Kansas State Department of Education and chaired a committee that evaluated the work...

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State has numerous initiatives aimed at helping student mental health

State officials are working on several fronts to address the mental health needs of Kansas students. More than 1,700 students received help last year through the school Mental Health Intervention Program. Most of those students showed improvements in attendance, behavior and academics, Diane Gjerstad, who has been helping with implementation of the program, told the School Mental Health Advisory Council on Thursday. The program initially included nine school districts in partnership with Community Mental Health Centers. But it has since been expanded with a second year of funding from the Legislature to 180 schools in 32 districts. The council also received an update...

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Kansas teacher vacancies increase 27 percent over last fall

Teacher vacancies in Kansas increased by 27 percent over this time last year, according to figures given Tuesday to the State Board of Education. There were 815 vacancies reported currently, compared with 642 last fall. There were 550 last spring. The largest number of vacancies have been in special education — 186 this year and 158 last fall, followed by elementary — 115 this year and 113 last fall. Science, English Language Arts and math round out the top five groups of vacancies. Teaching licenses for new Kansas graduates and out-of-state applicants has steadily decreased over the past six years. In 2014,...

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