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Input provided at start of Kansans Can Success Tour

Posted Date: 07/27/2021

Input provided at start of Kansans Can Success Tour

Educators, parents, business owners and students Monday showed support of the Kansans Can vision of improving real-world preparation for students and had numerous suggestions on how to achieve that.

The input was provided from approximately 180 people during three meetings in north central Kansas as Kansas Education Commissioner Dr. Randy Watson and Deputy Commissioner Dr. Brad Neuenswander started a 50-city tour.

The Kansans Can Success Tour touched down in Salina, Concordia and Beloit on Monday and will continue Tuesday in Hays, Phillipsburg and Colby. Here is a link to tour dates and locations.

KASB President Lori Blake, a member of the Southeast of Saline USD 306 board, participated in the Salina meeting. She urged Kansans to attend and provide input. Blake said state education officials want to know how you believe “we achieve the goal of student success. Find a session to share your thoughts.”

The tour is a follow up to one six years ago that produced the Kansans Can vision of having Kansas lead the world in the success of each student.

In following that vision, the State Board of Education set goals of improving preparation for kindergarten, individualized plans of study, high school graduation rates, post-secondary success and providing more social and emotional support for students.

Using interactive software, participants showed strong support of continuing to focus on helping students achieve interpersonal and social skills, such as perseverance, integrity, self-regulation, initiative and curiosity.

Participants had numerous suggestions to help schools accomplish changes in the public school system, such as getting local businesses more involved in schools, consistent funding, flexibility in graduation requirements and improving communications with parents.

Watson said the responses will be tabulated and analyzed once the tour is over and will help guide education policymakers.

In Salina, USD 305 School Board President Jim Fletcher and Vice President Ann Zimmerman were in discussions at separate tables.

The board members said they heard participants say they want to help students become better at critical thinking and to have more loyalty to employers. They said in generations past, those kinds of skills may have been taught at home, but now with both parents working in many households, it is up to schools to help out in this area.

Watson and Neuenswander said schools need to redesign the curriculum around individualized student goals. They pointed to successes in Kansas, which has seen an increase in the high school graduation rate from 85.7 percent to 88.3 percent from 2015-2020. That includes a 6.5 percent increase in the graduation rates of English language learners; 3.7 percent among students who receive free or reduced lunch and 3.1 percent for students with disabilities.

In addition, the rate of students with postsecondary work two years after graduating high school has increased from 44 percent to 48 percent.