The state's new Commissioner of Education says schools need to become more focused on the student, not the system.

While Commissioner Randy Watson says that "sounds simple," he added that it is "extremely hard."

Watson spoke to a gathering Thursday of more than 100 school administrators and board members in Salina as part of a regional meeting of the Kansas Association of School Boards.

Wichita Public Schools

When kids miss a lot of school days, it can affect their academic performance, and they can easily fall behind in learning.

Chronic absenteeism is defined as missing 10 percent or more days of school, or roughly 18 days a year.

Educators say students who fail to show up for school in those early years--kindergarten through third grade-- also face an increased risk of dropping out of high school. This fall, the United Way of the Plains launched a new initiative called “Be There” to help solve some of the issues that contribute to absenteeism.

Nadya Faulx / KMUW

Wichita State University is focusing on the I-35 corridor for its next recruitment strategy.

WSU is offering reduced out-of-state tuition rates for Texas and Oklahoma residents--the same break it currently gives those from neighboring states like Missouri. Students who attend Wichita State from those states will pay one-and-a-half times the in-state tuition costs.

WSU Senior Vice President and Provost Tony Vizzini says recruiting along the Interstate 35 corridor makes sense.

Wichita Public Schools

The Wichita Public School district has released enrollment numbers for the 2015-16 school year.

The report indicates that enrollment numbers for pre-kindergarten through 12th grade currently sit at 49,498 students, a level that hasn’t been seen in more than ten years. It’s an increase of 110 students over the previous academic year.

Overall enrollment for Wichita Public Schools is 51,113 students, a decrease of 197 students from the previous academic year.

File photo

An official report shows enrollment at Wichita State University has dipped this semester.

The report from the Kansas Board of Regents shows 14,495 students are enrolled at Wichita State for the fall, a decrease of about 500 students, or 3.4 percent, compared to last year.

Tony Vizzini, WSU Provost and Senior Vice President says enrollment will always be a priority.

Nadya Faulx / KMUW

Numbers from a census taken on the 20th day of classes at Wichita State University show a decrease in enrollment and credit hours students are taking this semester.

Preliminary reports filed Monday compare this year's enrollment and credit hours taken by students to those of last year. This semester, enrollment at WSU decreased by close to 500 students, or about 3.3 percent. Students are also taking 2.3 percent fewer credit hours overall.

Christopher Sessums, flickr Creative Commons

At a series of recent public meetings, thousands of Kansans and business leaders described what they want students to learn in Kansas schools. As KPR’s Stephen Koranda reports, state education officials have compiled the responses and are now touring Kansas to unveil the information.

Kansas Education Commissioner Randy Watson says they got some surprising results. Instead of a focus on basic academic skills like reading and math, businesses and Kansans said they want students to have more non-academic skills, like teamwork, communication and persistence.

Alberto G., flickr Creative Commons

Scores from a new state assessment of Kansas students were released last week. Even though the tests are brand new, there could be changes in the coming years. The goal of the new, more rigorous exams is to better judge what students know and if they’re on track to succeed in college or a career.

Stephen Koranda

New state tests for Kansas students are garnering praise but also raising some concerns. Scores released this week show most Kansas 10th graders likely won’t be ready for college without some remedial coursework.

The Kansas Association of School Boards supports use of the new tests because they set higher goals for students than in the past. Mark Tallman, with the KASB, says not every student may want to go to college. For those kids who want to attend a university, this can help them determine if they’re on the right track.

Stephen Koranda / KPR

New test scores released today show only a quarter of Kansas 10th graders have the math skills needed to be ready for college or a career after graduation. Around a third of 10th graders were shown to have English skills that place them on the college track.

The goal of the new tests is to better judge if students will be ready for college or a job after high school. Board of Education Chairman Jim McNiece says this year's scores may not be as high as some people had hoped, but board members chose to set high goals for the state's students.