Board Acts on Dyslexia Recommendations

Members of the Kansas State Board of Education this week unanimously approved recommendations from the Task Force on Dyslexia, a legislatively-formed body that gave recommendations to the Kansas Legislature which in turn passed those recommendations on to state board members. It is up to state board members and Kansas State Department of Education officials to act on the recommendations.

State board members acknowledged a number of the recommendations will require additional funding and their adopted language calls on the board to urge the legislature to provide additional funding for the implementation of specific recommendations.

Board member Jim Porter (R-Fredonia) lead the Task Force on Dyslexia and noted the recommendations are the result of compromises and are all needed to meet the needs of students.

Some of the recommendations call for additional training for both higher education faculty in our colleges of education and K-12 teachers. The intent is to better infuse an understanding of dyslexia and other reading disorders into the pedagogical preparation of Kansas teachers and assist today’s teachers in identifying reading disorders and providing appropriate assistance to students.

CLICK HERE to read the recommendations.

Discussion of “Star Recognition” Program On-going

The Kansas State Board of Education members are continuing to learn from Kansas Education Commissioner Randy Watson about the proposed STAR recognition program for school accountability.

Under the program, schools would be given stars for certain achievements. These stars would be noted as gold, silver, copper, or bronze depending on the level of achievement that was reported in each of seven categories.

Three categories would be calculated by the Kansas State Department of Education: 1) preparation for high school graduation (state assessments); 2) the graduation rate, and 3) post-secondary success. All three of these are currently calculated by the education department. There would be four additional categories that would be reported by the school district. They are social-emotional growth, kindergarten readiness, individual plans of study and civic engagement.  

The stars are intended to be part of a one-page accountability report that would be readily available on the school district website. This report would also include some demographic and financial data, details on assessment scores including the ACT, attendance and mobility data, and post-secondary success rates.

While KNEA is committed to accountability for student achievement, we remain skeptical of “grading systems” for schools that do not effectively account for the challenges of meeting the needs of ELL and special education students, and the impact of poverty.

Commissioner Watson is also developing a “Commissioner’s Award” for schools that perform above where they would be expected to be based on poverty, mobility, and absenteeism.  This is likely intended to address the issue of improvement over time. The old “No Child Left Behind” Act was notorious for applying a one-size-fits-all standard without ever taking into consideration the demographic differences among schools – holding schools with deep poverty and large numbers of language minority students to the same achievement levels as schools in wealthy communities where all the students speak English. We must look for ways to recognize schools for closing the achievement gap and moving all students to higher achievement levels.

CLICK HERE to download a powerpoint presentation on this plan: Deputy Kansas Education Commissioner Brad Neuenswander Update