KSHA Advocates Under the Dome

The Kansas Speech and Hearing Association held an advocacy day in the Statehouse today with plenty of support from the school speech and language pathologists who serve our students. We had the pleasure of joining them for lunch today where they heard from Rep. Monica Murnan (D-Pittsburg) and Rep. Brenda Dietrich (R-Topeka).

We got to talk with Karla Dennis of the Blue Valley NEA Related Service Providers, a real advocate for speech and language professionals. Later, Allison Gatewood, a KNEA member and Topeka USD 501 speech and language pathologist, spoke to the committee about the work of SLPs in our schools and the impact they have on our students. It was a treat to see a proud KNEA member share her expertise with a legislative committee.

Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing – Issues before the Senate Education Committee

The Senate Education Committee received the report of the Language Assessment Program – Deaf and Hard of Hearing. This annual report looks at progress being made by children who are deaf or hard of hearing to make sure Kansas is meeting their needs so they can enjoy post-secondary success.

While there are not a lot of students in the assessment program, the results in 2018 showed that 30% of the 20 participants in 2018 met the milestones and 27% of the 56 assessed in 2019 met the milestones.

Last up in the committee was a hearing on Senate Bill 230 which provides for regulation and licensing of interpreters in Kansas. Interpreters would have to be registered with the Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing. The Commission can also allow for reciprocity across state lines. If passed, only those registered with and licensed by the commission could practice as an interpreter in Kansas.

When it’s never enough…

The House K-12 Education Budget Committee heard a presentation on accountability reporting from the Kansas State Department of Education and apparently they were still not happy.

The conservatives on the committee have been insisting the KSDE create a one-page accountability report linked to each district’s home web page so parents can know how their child’s school is doing. KSDE responded by creating just such a page and it is live now.

These reports give information on demographics of the district, post-secondary readiness of their students, post-secondary effectiveness, graduation rates, absenteeism, attendance rates, dropout rates, and expenditures per pupil. There is also three years of data on state assessments broken out by all students, free and reduced lunch students, students with disabilities, African-American students, and Hispanic students. ACT results are also listed.

That’s a lot of data! But it’s not enough for the conservatives on the committee who had plenty of criticism. They wanted more assessment data – at least five years. They wanted to immediately be able to compare one school to another. They wanted explanations of everything on the “landing page” of the KSDE website. They wanted assessment data broken out by grade level. They even asked if school districts were emailing parents that this data was there and explaining to them how to access and use it.

That’s not a “one-pager.” Yet all of that data is available on the website. It just takes a little work to find it all. It can’t fit on a one-pager.

The one-pager is rich in data and while we believe it could be improved with a little more explanation, some of it may be hard to fully understand if you are not part of the school community. It represents a grand effort on the part of the KSDE to fulfill the legislative request.

You can find a link to every school’s and district’s “one-pager” by clicking here. See for yourself!