Measuring student success in Kansas now will mean more than looking at test scores, Mark Tallman, associate executive director of advocacy for the Kansas Association of School Boards, said Monday during a meeting at Salina’s Hageman Education Center.
“For the first time in really 25 years, we’re changing our accreditation system. The new system is designed to be much broader that looking just at test scores,” Tallman said. “We’ve added a new element in measuring postsecondary success rates. What really matters is are kids able to be successful when they become adults.”
Legislators, school board members and community members attended the discussion, which was part of a statewide tour for representatives of the KASB, touring their “New Day for Kansas Education.”
“We’ll still look at state test scores, but we’ll look at other things such as ACT scores,” Tallman said.
Tallman said postsecondary information will be taken from the National Student Clearinghouse, which is a degree and enrollment verification system.
Tallman said education is a determining factor in a state’s economy.
“Education, the biggest thing in the state budget, more than any other thing determines economic prosperity,” he said. “The higher level of education you get, the more you learn and the less likely you are to be unemployed or in poverty.”
According to information provided by the KASB, improved education levels in Kansas since 1990 have added $5.7 billion in salaries and wages to the state’s economy.
Tallman also said an increase in funding would reverse staff reductions.
“We’ve seen a decline in people going into the education profession. Some of the dollars from the new funding formula will address salary issues and improve public relations when it comes to education,” he said. “The states that spend more on education, what they do is they hire more people to do more things for kids. What we’re talking about is doing more for students, for longer. What we spend on education is an investment.”
Greg Mann, Southeast of Saline superintendent, asked whether the state’s new school finance formula was sustainable.
Rep. Steve Johnson, R-Assaria, said the Legislature worked in detail on the 2018 and 2019 budgets “looking at education.”
“In 2018 and 2019, it is sustainable. Where we go in 2020 is the question,” Johnson said. “We’re still taking money from the KDOT system in those budgets (2018 and 2019), but the education piece was met, given sustainability was also an issue for the court. As you look to 2020 the question then becomes does the rate of inflation increase get us where we need to be. It’s possible that the increases that we have are there, and for that, the tax plan would continue to be added to sustain that spending.”
More social and life skills
Salinan Steve Murrison sparked a discussion about the importance of teaching students life and social skills before they graduate high school.
“Things such as debt, credit, time management — these are things they need to know no matter what they do in life,” he said. “We can’t rely on parents because a lot of parents don’t know these things themselves.”
Murrison said his sons had no interest in going to college, but “the talk is always college, college and nothing else.”
“If they’re not going to college, we have to show them those avenues they have to gain skills to become productive instead of just settling for a minimum-wage job when they come out of high school because they don’t have these skills,” he said. “Designing that curriculum from the time they’re freshmen is needed. There are so many who hear that going to college is the way to go. Then they go and they get all this debt when that isn’t what they wanted to do.”
Tallman said about 71 percent of Kansas jobs require some form of postsecondary education.
“Well, what about the students who are not necessarily college bound? How do you help them with the skills of balancing a check book and managing their credit? Almost 30 percent of jobs still don’t require a postsecondary degree,” he said. “What we typically hear from employers is there are still things we want young people to know how to do — be reliable, be on time and be able to work with people. We are trying to talk about the importance of more kids being more ready and successful at postsecondary education, but not devalue those who aren’t taking that path, but making sure they’re better prepared for the workforce.”