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KASB legislative week in review, Jan. 17-21

Posted Date: 01/21/2022

KASB legislative week in review, Jan. 17-21

Several legislators this week raised concerns over third-grade reading scores, the accreditation process and computer security at schools. In addition, bills have been introduced that would place more mandates on public education.

Next week, the House K-12 Education Budget Committee will hold discussions on Critical Race Theory on Monday and social emotional learning on Tuesday. In addition, a hearing is scheduled for Tuesday before the House Education Committee on HB 2466, which would require high schools to offer computer science courses.

Earlier this week, education officials briefed the K-12 committee on efforts by schools and the Kansas State Department of Education to ensure that students are reading at grade level or better by the end of third-grade.

K-12 Committee Chairwoman Kristey Williams, R-Augusta, said the number of proficient readers was decreasing and she asked, “What can we do in the classroom right now and how can the legislature support you.”

On accreditation, Williams said KSDE has de-emphasized student academic achievement, but KSDE officials said academic achievement, and plans for student and school improvement are the foundation of accreditation.

Meanwhile, the Senate Education Committee continued work on SB 340, which includes technical changes to the Kansas Promise Scholarship Act.

The Senate committee was also briefed on a state audit of school district computer security. The audit found that many districts have not implemented basic information technology security controls to protect computers or computer networks against unauthorized use or access.

Chairwoman Molly Baumgardner, R-Louisburg, suggested holding a followup meeting and inviting KASB, United School Administrators of Kansas, the Kansas State Department of Education and others to discuss how schools can improve their computer security.

The Senate committee also introduced two bills requested by the Kansas Policy Institute that would put more mandates on schools. SB 362 would require school boards to document barriers to have each student achieve grade level proficiency and estimate how long that will take and SB 363 would require school districts to list on their websites all materials, lesson plans and activities used for student instruction and teacher professional development. Hearings for those bills have not yet been scheduled.