The following summarizes content from the state's application for Lead State Partner in 2011.
Commissioner of Education: Diane DeBacker
Primary Point of Contact: Matt Krehbiel — Lead Science Education Program Consultant
Partner Organizations: Kansas Association for Environmental Education; Kansas Association of Teachers of Science; Kansas State Science and Engineering Fair; KansasBio; Ventria; Kansas City Area Life Sciences Institute; Kansas City STEM Alliance.
Background: Kansas requires all students to take three units of science including physical, biological, and earth and space science concepts, one of which must be a laboratory class. The current Kansas science standards are set in grade bands grouped K–2, 3–4, 5–7, and 8–12 and are assessed using an online assessment in grades 4, 7, and once in high school. The high school assessment covers both life and physical science and students can take it any time before the end of the 11th grade year based on their course progressions. Kansas is in the process of considering a revision to the high school assessment in order to improve alignment with high school courses, yet no action has been taken on this thus far. Kansas’ current science standards which were adopted in 2007 are scheduled to be up for revision in the summer of 2012, so the timeline for NGSS is aligned well for Kansas. At this time, Kansas has stated that if the NGSS are completed by the fall of 2012, pending board approval, Kansas expects to adopt the NGSS standards for the next school year.
Commitment: Kansas has shown a strong commitment to standards based learning through its adoption of the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) and its position as a governing state of SMARTER Balanced. The adoption of the Common Core State Standards has enabled Kansas to establish professional development based off the CCSS, and the timing of the NGSS will allow for collaboration in this effort, and therefore a more efficient use of professional development funding. Additionally, the current Kansas standards, which were adopted in 2007, are scheduled for revision soon, and Kansas anticipates that the rigorous and innovativeNGSS will provide and rigorous standards. There have been highly publicized debates in Kansas regarding evolution and creationism; Kansas is committed to creating a model of how to thoughtfully address this conversation, which would be useful for other states with similar situations.
STEM Involvement: Kansas has numerous programs in place throughout the state that work to advance STEM education such as Project Lead the Way, the Kansas State Science and Engineering Fair program, Real World Design Challenge, Skills USA and TSA National engineering competitions, the Kansas BioGenius Awards, and the Kansas Green Schools awards. Fantastic STEM and science learning has been going on across the state, but with increasing collaboration between Matt Krehbiel, Education Program Consultant in science, and RJ Dake,Career and Technical Education Program Consultant in STEM, Kansas is looking to work to bring together exemplary educators from across the state to better collaborate and build off each other’s efforts.
Alliances and Infrastructure: There are numerous associations and partnerships in place between business and industry professionals and the Kansas State Department of Education. For example, KansasBio supports science education in Kansas and sponsors the Kansas BioGenius Awards and Ventria Bioscience is just one example of a biotech company thathas partnered with a local school district to assist and provide teacher professional development in science, science equipment, and strong support in the creation of a biomedical pathway for high school students. Some larger organizations such as KansasBio, the Kansas City Area Life Sciences Institute, and the Kansas City STEM Alliance have been locally involved in creating and building partnerships between business and industry, research scientists, and educators. In other areas there are businesses that were involved in creating STEM pathways in Career Technical Education (CTE) which include: Cerner, the Kaufman Foundation, Cessna, Spirit Aero, Boeing, General Electric, the FAA, and Black and Veatch. Kansas is interested in helping to further develop these relationships while creating new ones in order to have the widespread support necessary for this endeavor.
Check back soon for more information on Kansas's state team and implementation plans