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State Board Begins Process of Updating Graduation Requirements

Posted Date: 02/17/2023

State Board Begins Process of Updating Graduation Requirements

The Kansas State Board of Education discussed a range of business items on Tuesday, February 14, including a start on language for new high school graduation regulations, before holding a planning retreat on Wednesday.  

The board approved new graduation requirements for the class of 2027 last November. This week, the board received a first draft of specific language to implement those changes in regulations. Once the board agrees on the wording, there is a lengthy review process by other state agencies and public hearings before the change becomes final.  

How lengthy? At the February meeting, the board approved relatively minor changes in teacher licensure regulations they initiated in 2018.  

There are several changes to graduation requirements that are under consideration. The first change would add a 0.5 communications course while reducing the current English requirements from 4.0 to 3.5 units. Also being considered is the addition of 1.0 units of a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) elective for all students, which could include computer science, advanced math or science, advanced CTE or agriculture. They are also proposing splitting the current requirement of 1.0 units of physical education into 0.5 units of physical education and 0.5 units of health and adding a new requirement of 0.5 units of personal financial literacy. Students would also be required to achieve at least two "postsecondary assets" aligned with their individual plan of study. The State Board would have to approve what would count for these accomplishments. It could be a career/real work focus (such as work-based learning or technical credentials, scouting or 4H programs, athletics and activities) or academic measures (such as high scores on standardized academic tests and college programs). Finally, students would be expected to complete a federal college financial aid application before graduation, but any student, family or school could file a waiver to opt out of this requirement. 

Among other actions at its February meeting, the State Board:  

  1. Approved new and amended school district plans for spending federal COIVD funds under the ESSER programs. So far, the State Board has approved plans for $340.7 million of $343.5 million for ESSER II, which must be spent by the end of December of this year, and $635.7 million of $768.1 million for ESSER III, which must be spent by December of 2024. According to State Department of Education officials, about 75% of ESSER II funding and 80% of ESSER III funding will go to programs that support teaching and learning, and most balance to school facility projects like air filtration and other health improvements. (Federal law determines allowable uses of these dollars; KSDE review and State Board approval are intended to ensure funds are appropriately spent.)  

  1. Approved six school districts and the Kansas School for the Blind for full accreditation status and received recommendations to accredit 11 school districts and one private school fully and to accredit one school district conditionally.  

  1. Heard from the two Kansas schools honored as federal ESEA (Elementary and Secondary Education Act) Distinguished Schools. Two schools were recognized for closing the achievement gap between student groups: Westview Elementary School, USD 233 Olathe. The other two were recognized for exceptional student performance for two consecutive years: Hillsboro Elementary School, USD 410 Durham-Hillsboro-Lehigh.  

  1. Received an update on Kansas dyslexia initiatives, including screening protocol, professional learning, collaborative partnerships and the newly established Kansas Literacy Advisory Council.  

  1. Received information on the work of the Early Childhood team including programs, funding, and other areas of interest. 

  1. Received a briefing on education bills in the 2023 Kansas Legislature and greetings from new Kansas House Education Committee Chair Adam Thomas, R-Olathe, during the Citizen's Open Forum.