education

Sam Zeff / KCUR

Despite the ongoing fight over how much Kansas should spend on schools, the Legislature did at least one thing this year that almost all educators were pleased with: For the first time, it included all-day kindergarten in the school funding formula.

That means districts no longer have to use money from other parts of their budgets or charge parents for all-day K.

Celia Llopis-Jepsen / Kansas News Service

Kansas is setting aspirations for much higher math and reading competency among the class of 2030 — today’s kindergartners — in a long-term accountability plan for its public schools.

Kansas officials submitted the accountability blueprint Tuesday to the U.S. Department of Education. It does not include language promoting controversial school choice concepts that Gov. Sam Brownback’s office advocated for, according to staff at the state education department.

Alberto G. / flickr Creative Commons

The results of the state's latest ACT test show the number of Kansas students who are college-ready is on the decline.

Alberto G. / flickr Creative Commons

Kansas education officials are aiming for big improvements in academic outcomes by 2030.

State officials want a 95 percent high school graduation rate. The current rate is 86 percent. And they want even steeper gains in math and reading proficiency.

The Kansas Association of School Boards supports these goals but warns no state has achieved them, and to get there schools will need more resources.

WLADYSLAW / WIKIMEDIA-CC

Kansas’ private tuition tax credit program doubled in size during the 2016-17 school year and appears likely to expand again after lawmakers voted to enhance it this session.

alamosbasement / flickr Creative Commons

New data from the National Student Clearinghouse shows about 44 percent of Kansas students continue onto college or technical education within two years of high school. In response, the state is asking schools to improve their numbers.

Education commissioner Randy Watson says the number of Kansas students going onto college is good compared to other states, but that 44 percent figure, is too low.

Celia Llopis-Jepsen / Kansas News Service

A new math class being piloted by dozens of high schools across Kansas seeks to save students stress, time and money when they reach college.

Currently, about one-third of students who continue to two- and four-year colleges in Kansas don’t score high enough on placement tests to enroll directly in college algebra, a class most need in order to graduate.

Instead, they work their way up through remedial classes, a process that can take multiple semesters.

Celia Llopis-Jepsen / Kansas News Service

In his 26 years at Meade Unified School District 226, a 400-student district southwest of Dodge City, Superintendent Kenneth Harshberger has watched the educational landscape change.

Teachers are harder to recruit — even for elementary jobs, which were traditionally easier to fill.

“The first time I tried to hire an elementary teacher 25, 26 years ago, we had over 100 applicants,” he recalled. “Now I can’t get five applicants.”

A non-partisan research and policy group says most of the undergraduate programs in Kansas that prepare high school teachers received a D or F grade in the latest ratings. Newman University in Wichita is one of two Kansas schools that scored in the top 25 percent.

The National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ) rated Benedictine College in the 83rd percentile and Newman University in the 76th percentile for their secondary education programs.

Stephen Koranda / Kansas Public Radio/File photo

The Kansas Legislature faces a crucial deadline as it starts its wrap-up session this week: It must have a school funding formula in place by June 30 that passes muster with the state Supreme Court, or the justices will shut down public schools.

The Kansas House has done a good amount of work on a school funding bill. A working bill is in place, although it has yet to pass out of committee and make it to the floor.

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