New Kansas Education Mission, Goals, and Outcomes
Recently I wrote a series of articles in regards to the USD 417 Board of Education Goals for the 2016-17 school year. The Kansas State Board of Education has also recently established a policy paper outlining guiding principles for the state. I want to share these with you along with a picture of several of the ways that USD 417 is working to meet the state’s outcomes. Too, I will point out how a couple of the USD 417 current Board goals have been established based both on identified needs and the new emphasis by the state.
The Kansas Vision: Kansas leads the world in the success of each student.
The Kansas Mission: To prepare Kansas students for lifelong success through rigorous, quality academic instruction, career training and character development according to each student's gifts and talents.
The Kansas Moto: Kansans CAN
Kansas Goal: A successful Kansas high school graduate has the:
· Academic preparation,
· Cognitive preparation,
· Technical skills,
· Employability skills, and
· Civic engagement
to be successful in postsecondary education, in the attainment of an industry recognized certification or in the workforce, without the need for remediation.
OUTCOMES FOR MEASURING PROGRESS
· Kindergarten readiness
· Individual Plan of Study focused on career interest
· High school graduation rates
· Postsecondary completion/attendance
· Social/emotional growth measured locally
Outcome #1: Kindergarten Readiness – On numerous occasions I have addressed with our public and our BOE the critical nature of early childhood education. The state is currently in the process of refining a kindergarten readiness tool to help the state and communities know the level of readiness when children begin kindergarten. Here are some of the ways that USD 417 is working to develop a top-notch early childhood program for our children so they are ready for our kindergarten program.
· Representatives from USD 417 participate in a monthly meeting to coordinate services among agencies and groups who provide early childhood services in our communities. Included in this work are Infant/Toddler services, Parents as Teacher services, and our USD 417 pre-school provider.
· Local Infant Toddler personnel (provided through the Flint Hills Tiny-K services out of Emporia) provide services to enhance the development of infants and toddlers with disabilities, minimize their potential for developmental delays, and to recognize the significant brain development that occurs in a child’s first three years of life. Further, the service works to enhance the capacity of families to provide for the needs of infants and toddlers with disabilities.
· Parents as Teachers (a joint program provided with grant dollars through USD 417 and the Greenbush Educational Cooperative) promotes optimal early childhood development, learning, and the health of children by supporting and engaging children’s parents and caregivers. Our PAT coordinator is Brenda Kirk. Here is a short list of some of the work she has accomplished thus far this year with families:
o Celebrated Ks Reads to Preschoolers with an event at the local library and gave away books to families.
o 70 vision screenings done at the health fair in October
o 80 toothbrush kits given out to children at the health fair
o 100 toothbrush kits given to families at back to school nights at CGES/PHES
o Approximately 400 students participated in “Walk to School Day” to promote healthy choices and pedestrian safety. Clifford Walks to School books were given to every preschooler and kindergartner in USD 417, as well as a lesson on pedestrian safety
o Family Fun Night in February- with stations for family fun (block play, playdough, puzzles, bean table, painting, tunnels)
o Car seat check lane will occur in the spring along with bike helmet distribution
· Pre-School Services – USD currently has two sessions of pre-school for 33 four & five-year old students. The state funds pre-school education on a grant basis with money for up to 15 students. The USD 417 Board of Education made a commitment to increasing pre-school education a couple years back by fully funding the costs for a full-time teacher and 1.5 aides. Our pre-school program also serves four and five-year old special education students.
· Kindergarten – USD 417 also provides for all-day kindergarten services for all kindergarten aged children in our district. The state only provides funding for ½ time kindergarten programs. Several years ago, USD 417 made the decision to fund the additional costs for all-day kindergarten for our students.
· USD 417 also provides for a child find program to help identify children who have special needs.
Outcome #2: Individual Plans of Study (focused on career interests) – I have also discussed, in the past, the premise behind this outcome. Post-secondary completion rates need to be improved if we are to meet the job demands of the future. Planning for a career based on student interests can be a motivational means for guiding students towards a successful completion of their secondary education. This plan also provides the roadmap for a student’s post-secondary education. One of our current BOE goals, to provide additional counseling assistance, partly exists as this state goal has added a significant workload for our current counselors. To meet this state objective, USD 417 is currently providing for the following:
· Each year in grades 6-12, students participate in a planned career education curriculum.
· Students now use a career interest/planning online program called Career Cruising, which is designed to help match student interests to careers. Students and parents, using Career Cruising, can create Individual Plans of Study (course schedules) based on courses we offer that match their career interests. Individual Plans of Study begin in 8th Grade.
· Career Cruising has several components for students and parents. The sections include: Explore Interests (including interest assessments), Learn about Careers, Explore Education Options, Build Resumes, Explore Job Searches, and Explore Financial Aid. It is a very powerful program and we are excited to have students use it.
· Students in 7th through 12th grade also have the opportunity to visit area colleges including two-year, four-year, and technical colleges. Parents are always welcome to come along on these trips. The high school hosts a “Focus on Your Future” event each year and 7th grade students also have an annual career fair opportunity.
· 7th & 9th grade students take the Aspire assessment and 10th grade students take the Accuplacer assessment. Both of the assessments are designed to help students, and their parents, gain an understanding of their level of academic preparation in relation to their desired post-secondary aspirations. Aspire for ACT and Accuplacer are also used in order to qualify for specific programs at technical and community colleges. The results of these assessments are shared with parents, typically at parent/teacher conferences.
· Administrators and the CGJH/HS counselor meet with parents of 8th grade students to discuss their child’s enrollment in high school. They also meet with 10th grade parents prior to enrollment to talk about a student’s junior/senior years and post-secondary education.
Outcome #3: High School Graduation Rates – Our goal is to have a 100% graduation rate. However, we typically find that we have some students who do not complete. One of our current BOE goals is to determine how to provide on-going services through a virtual school setting for students who leave school by choice or because they require a different educational setting. Adding additional counseling help could impact our graduation rate by providing more intervention services for student in our lower grades. The following is a comparison of our 5-year cohort graduation rate for 2014 & 2015 to the rate for the State of Kansas:
· 2014 – USD 417 94.4% graduation rate; State 86.9% graduation rate
· 2015 – USD 417 92.7% graduation rate; State 87.2% graduation rate
Outcome #4: Social-Emotional Growth (SECD) – As described by KSDE this is the teaching, practicing, modeling and encouraging essential personal life habits that are universally understood as making people good human beings and citizens. It is learning with our heads, hearts and hands to be caring and civil, to make healthy decisions, to effectively problem solve, to be respectful and responsible, to be good citizens and to be empathetic and ethical individuals. In schools SECD takes many forms, including programs that specifically address safe and drug-free schools, service learning, emotional literacy, bullying and violence prevention, the embracing of diversity and other similar initiatives. (From the state description for Social-Emotional Growth)
· USD provides for regular character education discussions with students through our counselor classes at the elementary school.
· At CGJSHS, students have the opportunity to watch and discuss lessons through our “Connect with Kids” program during their seminar periods.
· USD 417 elementary schools work with students using the Olweus Bully Prevention program to teach respect for others and appropriate behaviors with peers.
· On different occasions schools will bring in guest speakers to talk about different social issues such as alcohol and drug use or safe driving practices, etc.
· Of course, attendance and tardiness are addressed throughout the year.
Outcome #5: Post-Secondary Completion – The ultimate goal is not the completion of high school but rather the completion of a post-secondary educational program. The state tracks this information for schools, as much as they are able. Recent information for USD 417 shows the following:
· Of the CGHS 2011 graduates, 73% enrolled in post-secondary education. The state rate was 75%. Of these 73% enrolled in post-secondary education, 68% were enrolled in their 2nd year of post-secondary education. The state level was 64%.
· Of the CGHS 2012 graduates, 75% enrolled in post-secondary education. The state rate was 78%.
· Of the CGHS 2013 graduates, 83% enrolled in post-secondary education. The state rate was 79%.
We continue to strive to help our students, and their parents, to understand just how important a post-secondary education is to their future employment opportunities and earning power. Well over 70% of the jobs of the future will require some degree of post-secondary education. Those jobs that do not will typically be service or low-skilled labor positions, which will offer low pay with little to no benefits. We can offer opportunities to enter and even come close to completing a technical college degree or to have a decent start on an Associate’s Degree while still in high school.
So, these are the State Board of Education new mission, goal, and outcomes. There are many other ways that our district works to meet this vision the state has established for KS schools. We will continue to look for opportunities to help us reach and exceed these goals.