Kansas student success rate improves; more schools approved for redesign

The percentage of Kansas students seeking education after high school graduation continues to increase, according to the most recent figures compiled by the Kansas State Department of Education.

“We’re heading in the right direction,” Kansas Education Commissioner Randy Watson told the State Board of Education on Tuesday. But Watson quickly added more improvement is needed.

Based on five-year averages, the high school graduation rate has increased from 85 percent (2011-2015) to 86 percent (2013-2017). More importantly, Watson said, the five-year “success rate” average has increased from 52 percent to 55 percent during the same period, Watson said. The “success rate” is the percentage of students who enrolled in postsecondary in both the first and second year following high school graduation plus the percentage of students who graduated from postsecondary.

In recent years, state education officials have emphasized the need for students to continue their education after high school because the vast majority of new jobs are requiring some postsecondary credential.

In other business, the State Board of Education approved the school redesign plans for schools in 33 districts. These so-called Gemini I and Gemini II schools will launch those plans in the coming school year.

The Kansans Can School Redesign Project was announced in 2017 in support of Kansas’ vision for education – Kansas leads the world in the success of each student.

The schools must be redesigned around five major outcomes: improving kindergarten readiness, high school graduation rates, post-secondary success, the emotional well-being of students and putting in place individual plans of study for students.

More than 160 schools in 66 school districts have voluntarily signed up for the redesign project, which has been named after the different phases of U.S. space exploration — Mercury, Gemini and Apollo.

Those plans approved on Tuesday are in the following districts: Andover, Basehor-Linwood, Caldwell, Canton-Galva, Cedar Vale, Chaparral, Clay County, Durham-Hillsboro-Lehigh, Emporia, Fredonia, Geary County, Halstead, Haven, Haviland, Kingman-Norwich, Lakin, Leavenworth, Liberal, Little River, Lyons, Neodesha, Newton, No. Lyon County, Osawatomie, Ottawa, Peabody-Burns, Renwick, Santa Fe Trail, Southern Lyon, Spring Hill, Whitewater-Remington, Wichita and Winfield.

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