News Release from KLFA
•April 12, 2018•

The Kansas Learning First Alliance (KLFA) held the final meeting for the 2017-2018 academic year on April 12, 2018 at the KNEA building in Topeka, Kansas. KLFA Chair, Mark Farr, welcomed 15 representatives of 13 educational organizations committed to the KLFA vision of partnering to keep learning first.

KSDE Deputy Commissioner, Brad Neuenswander, provided an informative update on the Kansans Can School Redesign Project. Those schools identified as Mercury and Gemini schools are re-imagining what successful schools can look like. Tuesday, April 17th additional schools were identified resulting in 100 schools in 47 districts being involved in the redesign process. Schools working on redesign are focusing on two goals, while engaging families and communities in the effort and identifying innovative ways to reallocate their resources to accomplish their plans. A Kansas “Flight Manual” is being developed to assist others who will be involved in the future. 

Susan Helbert, Assistant Director for Teacher Licensure provided information to participants regarding the multiple routes for becoming an educator in Kansas. She provided a regulations summary of what was currently in process at KSDE and reviewed the work of the Teacher Vacancy Supply Committee, including information about the new Limited Elementary Pilot and the new High Incidence Special Education pilot. She also explained the Kansas Educator Continuum and the concept of individual plans of study for the professional learning of teachers, which in the future may more effectively tie professional learning for teachers with license renewal.

Mark Desetti, KNEA Director of Legislative and Political Advocacy and Leah Fliter, KASB Advocacy and Outreach Specialist provided an informational summary related to the over 500 million dollar (over five years) school funding legislation that recently passed. While there was an 80 million dollar error discovered, it is hoped that correction of the error will be attended to swiftly when the session resumes April 26th.

Jeannette Nobo, Assistant Director for KESA, provided an update on the Kansas Education Systems Accreditation (KESA) work. She noted there will be seven schools completing the accreditation cycle this coming month. To date, 323 individuals have been trained as Outside Visitation Team (OVT) chairs and 1,079 individuals trained as OVT team members. Surveys have recently been sent out related to KESA training, and she requested feedback for participants on the process. For more information on KESA, click here.

The Kansas Learning First Alliance is a coalition of 36 educational organizations in Kansas representing school boards, administrators, teachers, teacher educators, parents, the Kansas Board of Education, and the Kansas State Department Education. For more information about KLFA, visit the KLFA Website and/or look for “Kansas Learning First Alliance” on Facebook.

Future KLFA meetings scheduled for the 2018-2019 academic year are:
Thursday, August 23, 2018
Thursday, October 11, 2018
Thursday, January 10, 2019
Thursday, April 11, 2019

News Release from KLFA
•January 9, 2018•

The Kansas Learning First Alliance (KLFA) held an informative meeting on January 9, 2018 at the KNEA building in Topeka, Kansas.  KLFA Chair, Mark Farr, welcomed more than 15 representatives of 12 educational organizations who are committed to the mission of KLFA.

KSDE Program Consultant Myron Melton provided information regarding the Social Emotional Character Development (SECD), which is one of the Kansas State Board of Education goals. He shared information about the Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) Pyramid study. The study of Kansas children suggested 55% had at least one ACE, 34% have 1-2, and 21% have 3 or more. Twenty percent (20%) of our students need mental health services, but only 7% actually get it. That has a big impact on education as those students spend more time in survival than cognition. Schools addressing this provide professional learning opportunities to help staff create trauma sensitive learning environments, help facilitate mental health services, collaborate with the family and community partners, help students develop coping skills, and adopt policies/procedures to enhance these practices.

Don Gifford, the KSDE Program Consultant for Civic Engagement, spoke about moving citizens from involved to engaged, which requires commitment and selflessness.  Engaged students are less likely to participate in high-risk behaviors, smoke, be anxious/depressed, etc.  To move toward self-efficacy, one must be confident their actions can make a difference, and there is little formalized civic curriculum. With the State Board emphasis on civic engagement, they’re promoting it via a new awards structure based on identified criteria, as well as hosting the Civic Engagement Conference on Feb. 19th.  

The Kansas Learning First Alliance is a coalition of 36 educational organizations in Kansas representing school boards, administrators, teachers, teacher educators, parents, the Kansas Board of Education, and the Kansas State Department Education. 

Future KLFA meetings scheduled for the 2017-2018 academic year are:
Thursday, April 12 9:30am, 2018 at KNEA Building

News Release from KLFA
•October 19, 2017•

The Kansas Learning First Alliance (KLFA) held an informative meeting on October 19, 2017 at the KNEA building in Topeka, Kansas.  KLFA President/Chair, Mark Farr, welcomed representatives of 13 various educational organizations for a day of collaborative conversation.

KSDE Deputy Commissioner, Brad Neuenswander, noted the KSDE School Redesign project is unique to Kansas, founded on feedback from a wide-range of stakeholders throughout the state and grounded in the Kansas State School Board’s vision of leading the world in the success of each student. He shared that estimates are by 2020, 71% of jobs will require education beyond a high school diploma. Approximately 36% of those positions will need to be filled with someone who has a bachelor degree and nearly the same percentage will be required to hold a certificate or associate degree. Currently, we are very short in meeting these employment needs. School redesign efforts will allow districts to pilot innovative ways of preparing students for the future.  Efforts will focus on all areas of preparation (academic preparation, cognitive preparation, technical skills, employability skills and civic engagement.)

Melinda Stanley, representing KanREN shared information about the Future Ready Schools initiative which provides a structured framework to support school district efforts toward continual improvement and accreditation. The initiative focuses on assisting K-12 school districts to utilize digital learning opportunities to optimize every student’s chance for success.  The Future Ready Schools framework is aligned to the basic tenets of the state’s new accreditation model, Kansas Education Systems Accreditation (KESA) and the available Future Ready School resources can help guide important conversations regarding establishment of district priorities. 

The Kansas Learning First Alliance is a coalition of educational organizations in Kansas representing school boards, administrators, teachers, teacher educators, parents, the Kansas Board of Education, and the Kansas State Department Education. Please check the KLFA website to learn of upcoming opportunities for professional learning throughout the state and to share what your organization is doing. For more information about KLFA, visit the KLFA Website and/or look for “Kansas Learning First Alliance” on Facebook.

Future KLFA meetings scheduled for the 2017-2018 academic year are:
Tuesday, January 9, 2018 9:30 am at KNEA Building
Thursday, April 12, 2018 9:30 am at KNEA Building

News Release from KLFA
•August 25, 2017•

The Kansas Learning First Alliance (KLFA) held an informative meeting on August 25, 2017 at the KNEA building in Topeka, Kansas.  KLFA Chair, Mark Farr, welcomed more than 25 representatives of 17 various educational organizations who care deeply about the quality of education in Kansas. Member organizations highlighted at this meeting included AdvancED and the Kansas Gifted, Talented, Creative Organization, both sharing ways their organizations support the vision and mission of KLFA.

KSDE Commissioner Randy Watson provided an update on the Kansans Can School Redesign initiative. The initiative is based on outcomes set forth by the Kansas State Board of Education, emphasizing social-emotional factors measured locally, kindergarten readiness, individual plans of study, high school graduation and postsecondary success.  This initiative empowers districts to respond to the recent feedback gained from a wide range of community stakeholders throughout Kansas. Seven schools have been selected to pilot the initiative. For more information see School Redesign.  

Dr. Rick Doll and Dayna Richardson shared information regarding both the training of Outside Visitation Team members and chairs for the new Kansas Education Systems Accreditation (KESA) model that will begin this year. This 5-year accreditation cycle will be co-facilitated by the district’s leadership team and an Outside Visitation Team (OVT) that has undergone training. Additional chairs are needed. Those interested in more information on serving as an OVT Chair should contact Dr. Rick Doll at rdoll@ksu.edu.

The Kansas Learning First Alliance is a coalition of 36 educational organizations in Kansas representing school boards, administrators, teachers, teacher educators, parents, the Kansas Board of Education, and the Kansas State Department Education. The mission of KLFA is “to unite the education community to improve our outstanding public education system, pre-K through higher education, to empower each Kansan to succeed in the diverse, interdependent world of the 21st century”. For more information about KLFA, visit the KLFA Website and/or look for “Kansas Learning First Alliance” on Facebook.

News Release from KLFA
•April 11, 2017•

Collaborative initiatives to meet the needs of students in Kansas was the key focus at the recent Kansas Learning First Alliance meeting held April 11, 2017 in Topeka, KS.

Two member organizations shared the spotlight by providing an overview of the mission and vision of their organizations. Betsy Wiens, representing Kansas Teachers of Mathematics, shared the essential work of her organization and highlighted scholarship opportunities available to practicing math teachers in Kansas. More information may be found at the KATM website.  Kelly Stanford, representing Communities in Schools, provided an overview of her organization, which provides increasing levels of support  to assist students in overcoming barriers faced due to poverty, trauma, and factors that impede optimum student engagement and learning. 

Richard Long, Executive Director of Learning First Alliance shared what LFA is doing at the national level to engage in the discussion for strong public schools. He shared that a compendium of writings and research related to characteristics of successful schools is being developed. He also reported that LFA is working to identify what positive collaboration might look like within the business community creating a “culture of coalitions” to lead reform efforts.

Cort Buffington and Melinda Stanley of KanREN shared information regarding Prairie Line Express, a project designed to establish strong Internet capability to schools across the state. Originally designed to support the technology infrastructure of Kansas Board of Regents’ Institutions, it has expanded to areas where community entities are partnering with K-16 schools. Their goal is to change the mindset of educational districts from “do I have enough” to “what can I do” to encourage innovation.

Nancy Crato, Director of Psychosocial Rehabilitation at Topeka’s Family Service and Guidance Center and Julie Ward, Coordinator of social workers for the Topeka School District (#501) shared their collaborative efforts to support mental health professionals working in schools as they support PK-12 students. Establishing a “trauma informed” system takes collaboration: sharing resources and tools to provide additional professional learning that helps meet the challenges many students in our schools face. 

Dates for the 2017-2018 KLFA meetings were set:
Tuesday August 29 9:30 a.m., at KNEA Building; 715 SW 10th Ave., Topeks, KS
Thursday, October 19 9:30 a.m., at KNEA Building: 715 SW 10th Ave., Topeks, KS
Tuesday, January 9, 9:30 a.m., at KNEA Building: 715 SW 10th Ave., Topeks, KS
Thursday, April 12 9:30 a.m., at KNEA Building: 715 SW 10th Ave., Topeks, KS
For more information about KLFA, visit the KLFA Website and/or look for “Kansas Learning First Alliance” on Facebook.

News Release from KLFA
•January 5, 2017•

Representatives from Kansas Learning First Alliance member organizations met to gain information on new accreditation protocol and tax reform initiatives during a recent meeting held January 5, 2017 in Topeka, KS.

Dr. Bill Bagshaw, KSDE Assistant Director of Teacher Licensure & Accreditation shared information on the Kansas Educational Systems Accreditation (KESA) model, specifically the Outside Visitation Teams (OVT). He explained the training manual for chairs of these teams is being created to deliver strong preparation for team leaders. Different from the earlier accreditation process, KESA will accredit systems (usually districts) rather than individual buildings. An integral piece of the process is the active engagement that building and district level teams of educational professionals and community members will have in the process. He also provided information on the five-year cycle roll-out. 

Heidi Holliday, Executive Director of Kansas Center for Economic Growth, and Haley Pollock, Director of Communication and Outreach for Kansas Action for Children, provided information about the tax reform initiative developed by the Rise Up Kansas Coalition which provides a solution to the current and growing crisis impacting education programs and resources. They explained why comprehensive tax reform is critical and simply addressing a piece (such as closing the LLC loophole) will not bring about the changes needed. 

The Kansas Educational Leadership Institute (KELI) was welcomed as a new member organization. Dr. Rick Doll, Executive Director of KELI shared with meeting participants the KELI’s mission to provide excellent professional learning and resources for educational leaders across Kansas. KELI is a collaborative body formed by Kansas School Superintendents Association, United School Administrators, Kansas Association of School Boards, Kansas State Department of Education and Kansas State University.  

Mark Desetti, Leah Fliter, and Tom Krebs provided a legislative update highlighting the changes from the recent election. Committee chairs appear to be more moderate, and several of the new legislators have experience in the work of schools.  It was noted there is a significant increase of new legislators in both House and Senate who ran on the platform of being supportive of public schools. The critically important work on the new school finance formula will be starting with the new session.

The next (and final) meeting for KLFA for the 2016-2017 academic year will be held on April 11, 2017 at the KNEA Building (715 SW 10th Ave. Topeka, KS)

For more information about KLFA, visit the KLFA Website and/or look for “Kansas Learning First Alliance” on Facebook.

News Release from KLFA
•October 20, 2016•

Representatives from Kansas Learning First Alliance member organizations met to gain information on new initiatives and impending changes during the a recent meeting held October 20, 2016 in Topeka, KS.

Kansas Reading Association and the Jones Institute for Educational Excellence were asked to provide an organizational “spotlight” moment to highlight the work and constituency of their organizations.

Dr. Scott Meyers, KSDE Director of Teacher Licensure & Accreditation shared information related to KESA, more specifically the Outside Visitation Teams (OVT) that will be an integral part of the accreditation process in the future. OVT members will represent various stakeholders and work regionally to assist in accreditation of each system. These teams will not be appointed by KSDE, but will be determined by the system being accredited with approval from KSDE. Team members will receive training to fulfill the role prior to being asked to assist and commit to a five-year period of service.

Jay Scott, Assistant Director of Career & Technical Education, shared information related to Individual Plans of Study (IPS), providing the rationale behind this initiative as well as the minimum components included in such plans. These programs, best started in grades 6-8, should include a series of career interest surveys, a course builder function, a general post-secondary plan, and provide a portable electronic portfolio to facilitate sharing of information. There are various successful models that can be used for this process (counselor-centered, career advisor, career advocates, hybrid), with the understanding whatever model is in place it should remain flexible and be re-visited regularly.

Leah Fliter and Tom Krebs provided a legislative update and emphasized the importance of the upcoming election. KNEA made available to all present the KNEA Candidate Recommendations & Voting Guide for 2016 which included both Republican and Democrat candidates who are up for election/ re-election whose work and actions consistently support public education.

The Community Engagement, Professional Learning and Student Success workgroups met during the afternoon developing projects to inform others of the positive work schools are accomplishing. Information related to the Kansans CAN initiative was referenced and a new video series being developed by Learning Forward Kansas entitled, Inspired to Learn: Kansas Stories was previewed.

For more information about KLFA, visit the KLFA Website and/or look for “Kansas Learning First Alliance” on Facebook.

News Release from KLFA
•September 13, 2016•

An update on new initiatives for education in the state of Kansas was the key focus of the recent Kansas Learning First Alliance meeting. Mark Farr, KLFA Chair, welcomed more than 20 representatives from the collaborative KLFA member organizations to the meeting held at the KASB building on August 25, 2016.

Commissioner Randy Watson provided updates on the Kansans Can initiative and innovative strategies designed to be responsive to communities and business stakeholders throughout the state. Information shared reflected the Kansas Educational Systems Accreditation (KESA) System, Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), School Funding and the work of the Blue Ribbon Task Force which studied teacher vacancies throughout the state. Key points of emphasis were:
 the Kansans Can initiative needs educators promoting education,
 we’re aligned to a local control philosophy on KESA and ESSA implementation,
 state assessments are affordable and the number has been reduced, but there will be clear expectations for the digital delivery to improve.

Utilizing a working lunch and the afternoon, the three work groups (Community Engagement, Professional Learning and Student Success) met to work on developing ways of sharing the positive things happening in our schools. It was determined both social media (Infographics, Twitter, Facebook, etc.) and traditional media are important avenues to use in sharing the story about what makes our schools great. Time was provided to create products to share between all organizations.

KLFA was happy to welcome the Kansas Children’s Service League as a new member organization. KLFA is a coalition of 35 educational organizations in Kansas representing school boards, administrators, teachers, teacher educators, parents, the Kansas Board of Education, and the Kansas State Department of Education. The mission of KLFA is “to unite the education community to improve our outstanding public education system, pre-K through higher education, to empower each Kansan to succeed in the diverse, interdependent world of the 21st century.” Future KLFA meetings scheduled for the 2016-2017 academic year include:
 October 20, 2016 KASB 1420 SW Arrowhead Road, Topeka, KS
 January 5, 2017 KNEA 715 SW 10th Ave. Topeks, KS
 April 11, 2017 KNEA 715 SW 10th Ave. Topeks, KS
 June 13, 2017 KNEA 715 SW 10th Ave. Topeks, KS
For more information about KLFA, visit the Website and/or look for “Kansas Learning First Alliance” on Facebook.

By the LFKS Staff
•May 20, 2016•

Kansas_authors_shineThis exciting new post features the wisdom, ideas, and effective strategies of Kansas authors who support the LFKS vision of Excellent Teaching and Learning Every Day. Kansas is blessed to have many quality educators and leaders who believe in the power of effective professional learning and utilize this as the vehicle for improving instructional practice and student results. Many of these educators have been willing to share their knowledge and skills through published works, blogs, workshops, and other venues so that all Kansas educators and their students can benefit. This post celebrates three Kansas authors, Jim Knight, Marceta Reilly and Kelly Gillespie, who have written books that focus on improving our practice through better conversations, coaching conversations, and using data to drive those conversations. A common theme in each of their books is the importance of feedback and conversations to improve our practices and student success.

It is the hope of LFKS that celebrating our Kansas authors and sharing these resources will support Kansas educators in realizing the power to make a difference in a district, building, or classroom.  LFKS is honored to have all three of these educators as part of our LFKS Leadership Conference next February 1-2, 2017.  Mark your calendars! 

Better Conversations:  Coaching Ourselves and Each Other to be More Credible, Caring and Connected
By Jim Knight, with a companion Reflection Guide to Better Conversations
Published by Corwin 2016

Jim Knight

Jim Knight

Jim Knight, Kansas University Center for Research on Learning, is known internationally for his work with instructional coaching and has written many books on this topic. He will be the featured keynote speaker on February 1, 2017, at the LFKS Annual Conference.  In his latest work, Knight explores what “better conversations” look like, the beliefs that support better conversations, and what skills and behaviors will lead to better conversations. He encourages educators to begin by being a better listener by focusing on listening with empathy.  This leads to fostering better dialogue, and asking good questions that deepen the emotional connections and allow those involved to explore common ground.  The challenges that prevent better conversations are also addressed as Knight shares ways to control and redirect emotions and toxic words, and build trust.  Learn more http://www.radicallearners.com/

Opening the Door to Coaching Conversations
By Marceta Fleming Reilly and Linda Gross Cheliotes
Published by Corwin 2012

Marceta Reilly

Marceta Reilly is a former Kansas teacher, principal, superintendent, and current leadership coach, consultant, author, and mentor to many Kansas educators. This thoughtful how-to-guide deviates from the traditional “one right way” by sharing the mindsets, skills and strategies required to have effecting coaching conversations supported by a wide range of contributors who share their personal stories of challenges and experiences to illustrate the points made within each chapter. The authors lead the reader through the discovery process of what a coaching conversation is and how one can identify personal strengths and challenge and to develop the skills, attitudes, and actions to become an effective coach. Every educator can be “coach-like” by using these skills and strategies. Several of the contributors are from Kansas, including four with ties to LFKS:  Sandee Crowther, past Executive Director; Sue Kidd, Past President; Dayna Richardson, current Executive Director; and Dave Winans, Past President.   Marceta will share more coaching strategies at the LFKS Annual Conference on February 2, 2017.  Learn more at http://marcetareilly.com/  

#eWalkThrough:  Digital System for Instructional Leadership
By Kelly Gillespie with Sue Jenkins
Published by LuLu 2016

Kelly Gillespie

Kelly Gillespie

One component of achieving the vision of excellent teaching and learning every day is to improve instructional practices that positively impact student results. Data driven dialogue in a collaborative setting is an effective professional learning tool that leads to improved instructional practice. In this new book, Kelly Gillespie, director of Southwest Plains Regional Educational Center, explains how the Digital eWalkThrough Tool can provide the instructional data for educators to engage in continuous improvement. This customizable tool targets specific data collection that will lead to more meaningful conversations around that instructional data. “One size doesn’t fit all” in terms of what individual schools identify as important classroom instructional behaviors, or the knowledge and skills required by individual teachers, grade levels, or content areas to best support the learning needs of teachers and students. The key to this eWalkThrough process is not only to collect important data, but also to follow that with collaborative dialogue within a learning community/team, building, or district, in order to achieve the vision of excellent teaching and learning every day. Kelly will share this walkthrough process at the LFKS Annual Conference on February 2, 2017.  Learn more at http://www.kellygillespie.org/