The Rose Capacities: What are they and why they matter

Download a print-ready pdf The Rose Capacities (sometimes referred to as “Rose Standards”) were cited in the Kansas Supreme Court’s March 2014 Gannon v State of Kansas school finance decision. The Court said these are the standards for determining the level of suitable funding for public schools in Kansas and will be used as the test when deciding if the state is meeting its constitutional requirement to fund public education.

The standards originated in a 1989 Kentucky case, but have been referenced in other Kansas court cases and Kansas school law prior to the Gannon decision. In May 2014 the Kansas Legislature passed - and the Governor signed - HB 2506. The bill revised a statute pertaining to schools (KSA 2013 Supp. 72-1127) by including the exact language of the Rose Capacities.

The new law also says the Kansas State Board of Education must design subjects and areas of instruction to achieve these goals.

KASB groups the seven capacities into five categories:

Communication/Basic Skills 
  • Rose Capacity 1: Sufficient oral and written communication skills to enable students to function in a complex and rapidly changing civilization;
Civic and Social Engagement
  • Rose Capacity 2: Sufficient knowledge of economic, social, and political systems to enable the students to make informed choices;
  • Rose Capacity 3: Sufficient understanding of governmental processes to enable the students to understand the issues that affect his or her community, state, and nation;
Physical and Mental Health
  • Rose Capacity 4: Sufficient self-knowledge and knowledge of his or her mental and physical wellness;
  • Rose Capacity 5: Sufficient grounding in the arts to enable each student to appreciate his or her cultural and historical heritage;
Postsecondary and Career Preparation
  • Rose Capacity 6: Sufficient training or preparation for advanced training in either academic or vocational fields so as to enable each child to choose and pursue life work intelligently; and
  • Rose Capacity 7: Sufficient levels of academic or vocational skills to enable public school students to compete favorably with their counterparts in surrounding states, in academics or in the job market.

Why does this matter?

The challenge comes in first making all the right connections, then making all the pieces fit together. Before the state can decide how much money is needed to reach the Rose Capacities, there must be agreement on what the standards mean and how to assess whether or not students are meeting them.

KASB held a conference in August 2014 attended by close to 80 education and policy representatives to begin that process. Find a report summarizing the results of that meeting online at

Locally elected boards of education, professional educators and communities should guide this discussion. In January, when the 2015 Legislative Session convenes, school funding will again be on the agenda. The education community should be ready with recommendations for state policies that need changed or added and what resources are needed, both now and in the future. 

Where to find more information

Additional KASB information HERE

The origins of the Rose Capacities (pdf)

"I beg your pardon, I never promised you a Rose Garden." (Blog by KASB Executive Director John Heim)

Rose Capacities in Kansas Law (pdf)

How do the Rose Capacities relate to what we are currently doing?

This is a question each school board member should be asking. The Rose Capacities are not curriculum, and they are not a checklist. The Rose Capacities are ‘what’ we want our students to do. KASB believes our state must develop a clear view of what the Rose Capacities mean for every Kansas student and what educators, policymakers and the public must put in place to prepare students to meet them. 

The Rose Capacities are similar to the current Kansas College and Career Ready Standards, but do broaden student expectations in the areas of citizenship, the arts and health. And while Kansas’ past school-related laws have focused on what specific subjects Kansas schools must offer, the Rose Capacities outline what Kansas students should know and be able to do. There is also a greater emphasis on preparing for success after high school.

At the state level, there are several initiatives that connect with this issue, but provide no easy answers to questions.

NCLB Waiver: The Kansas State Board of Education and Kansas State Department of Education have a waiver from the federal government from the requirements of ESEA (NCLB). That means Kansas (along with many other states) has set its own requirements for accrediting and monitoring public education. 

College and Career Ready Standards: 
In Kansas, the State Department of Education’s College and Career Ready Standards outline what we want our students to know and be able to do. These are defined by the State Department as “academic preparation, cognitive preparation, technical skills, and employability skills to be successful in postsecondary education, in the attainment of an industry recognized certification or in the workforce, without the need for remediation.”

Requirements in state law and the State Board regulations: 
There are a number of laws and regulations that guide Kansas public education’s academic programs.  Most of these can be found in “Kansas Statute 72-1127: Accredited schools; mandatory subjects and areas of instruction; legislative goals.”