USD 490 schools will benefit from a waiver received by the state of Kansas from provisions of the No Child Left Behind Act.
The change will allow for more effective plans to improve educational outcomes and schools will no longer have to focus on meeting Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP).
“I think it’s really going to help being a more fair description of if schools are making improvement,” said Superintendent Sue Givens. “This will be good.”
There are three parts to the waiver.
The first is college and career-ready expectations for all students. Through this, schools will adopt new standards in reading and math that are heavy in application. They are called Common Core.
“We will fully implement those standards next year,” Givens said. “The following year we will be tested on those.”
The second part is state-defined differentiated recognition, accountability and support. This will establish new performance targets for improving student achievement.
“There will be four different annual measurable electives to look at rather than just how many students scored efficient,” Givens said.
It is heavily based on student growth.
“It’s still the same stuff,” Givens said. “There’s four different marks we can hit.”
Those include improving achievement for all students, where as now they do not get credit for improvement for students making a D or F. It also looks at decreasing the achievement gap when looking at reading and math scores. They will have to look at the lowest 30 percent in El Dorado schools and compare that to the highest 30 percent in the state, then they have six years to decrease that gap by 50 percent.
It also will look at reducing non-proficient students, which they have to cut in half over six years. They still have to test 95 percent of the students or more and have a graduation rate of 80 percent or more.
One change is they look at Title I schools and not as a whole district. The lowest 5 percent of Title I schools will become priority schools, focus schools include the 10 percent with the biggest gap in achievement and reward schools are the high performing schools showing progress.
“We’re somewhere in there,” Givens said, “and I’m proud to say not in the priority or focus schools.”
The third part is supporting effective instruction and leadership.
Givens said there is a new evaluation model that includes progress on student achievement and an emphasis on teacher evaluation and support.
El Dorado was part of the pilot two years ago for evaluation. They will continue that pilot and next year will be the official pilot with implementation in 2014-15.
Page 2 of 2 - “We can either use that or our own document that meets those standards,” Givens said. “We have to decide by next spring before we really know what that is going to look like.”
She will bring a recommendation back to the board on this.
A fourth principal included in the waiver looks at reducing duplicating and unnecessary burdens, which will require changes in selected state statutes.
Also during the meeting, the board heard an update on the state safety hotline.
The district had determined this year they would monitor the state’s progress on the reporting system that was implemented statewide. What was launched was an anonymous bullying hotline, not a reporting system.
“It doesn’t do what we were hoping it would do for us and that is give us a monitoring system to determine frequency and location and how and where bullying was happening, and how to help,” Givens said.
They decided to add to the district’s operational plan rather than depend on the state’s site.
“We are looking at a reporting system that is a little more specific by building,” Givens said.
That could be an area on the school’s Web site or drop zones in the buildings where kids can make anonymous reports and those would go to the school resource officer. A committee is looking into that further.
That led to a discussion on another topic.
“We have talked frequently about bringing back things from the budget cuts we feel are necessary for accomplishing our goals,” Givens said.
One thing they felt they needed was another SRO.
“Half of Officer (Kurt) Spivey’s calls are to Prospect,” Givens said. “Mr. (Greg) Buster (director of special education for the Butler County Special Education Cooperative) is willing to pay for half of an SRO who would serve Prospect and the elementary schools.”
The board gave its consensus to begin advertising for this position.
In other business, the board heard about a recognition given to El Dorado High School science teacher Todd Miller. Miller was named a semi-finalist for Regional Teacher of the Year Award.
“He just really represented our district well,” Givens said.
Out of 10 nominees in secondary education, Miller was named one of the top three. With this, he will become a member of the Kansas Exemplary Educators Network.