Archive for Friday, July 9, 2004

Education Department makes plans to help districts meet new standards

July 9, 2004


Moving the focus from schools to districts and creating teams are part of the Kansas State Department of Education's plan to help Kansas schools meet standards set by the federal No Child Left Behind Act.

Alexa Pochowski, assistant commissioner in the learning services division of the Education Department, said it was critical to have a plan in place to help districts with schools on improvement.

"We will be more accountable than ever because if we go in and there's no difference, no improvement, then it will be apparent," she told Kansas State Board of Education members Thursday.

The Kansas State Board of Education reviewed work on the plan the department could use to provide assistance to school districts with schools tagged as needing improvement.

Schools are put on improvement when they don't make enough progress in improving students' math and reading scores.

The Lawrence school district had no schools placed on improvement last year.

Federal law requires school districts to provide assistance, such as professional development for teachers and helping with instruction, to schools struggling to meet standards set through No Child Left Behind. Meeting those standards is known as adequately yearly progress.

However, it is up to the state Department of Education to help the districts, Pochowski said.

She told board members they could inform school district officials that the state department would create teams to help with problems. Team members will review data, teaching materials, funding and several other areas to help pinpoint problems and come up with ways to correct them.

"We're also developing documents that are easy to follow that districts will be able to use to help," Pochowski said. "But the idea is every district will be able to have a team."

Board member Sue Gamble had concerns about districts and schools identifying problems but not having resources to take corrective action. Pochowski said finding funding would be part of the team's tasks.

The team would look at federal and state dollars available and see if there is another way to use those funds, she said.

"It doesn't mean we have additional dollars," Pochowski said. It's a matter of focusing the money in ways that can help with the problem, she said.

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