Kansas Board of Education

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The Kansas State Board of Education has approved a motion that says federal transgender guidelines for schools remove local control.

The statement doesn’t say schools should defy the rules or ignore the needs of transgender students. Instead, it says Kansas schools have already been accommodating transgender students, and decisions on how to do that should be made by local districts, not the federal government.

The Kansas State Board of Education plans to discuss and take possible action on the Obama administration's directive that public schools allow transgender students to use restrooms that match their gender identity.

Stephen Koranda / Kansas Public Radio

The Kansas House today approved a bill creating an ethnic studies curriculum for Kansas schools, but then took a change of course on the plan.

The House initially approved an amendment requiring the Kansas Department of Education to develop an optional ethnic studies curriculum. Democratic Rep. Ponka-We Victors, who’s Native American, says she has found many students don’t know enough about other cultures.

Christopher Sessums, flickr Creative Commons

Lawmakers will hold hearings this week on a bill that could trim back the number of school districts in Kansas significantly.

The bill sets requirements for the minimum size of districts. If districts are too small, they would be merged. The strategy behind the bill is efficiency, not by closing schools, but by consolidating administrations between schools districts.

Mark Tallman, with the Kansas Association of School Boards, spoke to education officials about the potential impact. He says the bill could affect local control.

Stephen Koranda / KPR

Results from new state tests for Kansas students will likely be released this week. The Kansas State Board of Education will consider the results later today.

Deputy Education Commissioner Brad Neuenswander says the new tests are different and more difficult than old exams. He says setting the bar higher means scores could come in lower than some people might expect.

Alberto G., flickr Creative Commons

The Kansas State Board of Education is working to rewrite the rules for evaluating student test scores. Kansas revamped standardized tests last year, and board members are working this summer to update the so-called “cut scores.”

Kansas Board of Education member Deena Horst says they should be setting high goals for students to be considered proficient.

“We want our students to be able to run with the best, if not be the best,” Horst says.

Kansas school districts are reporting that teachers are retiring at a higher pace, while the number of newly licensed teachers remains flat.

More than 2,000 teachers retired last school year. The state's education department says that's double the number of teachers that retired five years earlier.

Scott Myers is the department's director of teacher education and licensure. He says the teacher retirement figures are subject to error because it's self-reported data from school districts.

The Kansas State Board of Education has voted not to release scores from a new standardized test. The computerized math and reading test for public school students was plagued with problems. As Stephen Koranda reports, glitches and cyberattacks disrupted testing for many students, so the results may not be valid.

The test was developed by the Center for Educational Testing and Evaluation at the University of Kansas, known as CETE. Board member John Bacon, from Olathe, says taxpayers need to know they’re getting their money’s worth.

Kansas State Board of Education members face a decision about how much data to release from statewide math and reading tests after public schools faced problems administering the exams.

The board’s discussion today is a response to cyberattacks and glitches in the computerized testing system earlier this year.

The Center for Educational Testing and Evaluation at the University of Kansas told the board last month that it should not release data for individual schools and districts. The biggest problems occurred with testing from March 10 to April 10.

The Kansas State Board of Education will continue studying a plan to exempt two school districts from many state regulations.

The idea is that exempting schools from regulations may give them more flexibility and lead to better student outcomes.

The McPherson and Concordia districts are the first two seeking approval to become so-called “innovative districts.”

The board decided to form a study committee to meet with officials from the districts and look into some issues raised by board members.

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