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Kansas education official outlines plan for school redesign

Posted May 11

— The Kansas education commissioner wants to choose seven school districts to participate in a major redesign of their systems based on the State Board of Education's "Kansans Can" vision.

Commissioner Randy Watson told board members Tuesday the intent of the redesign project is to the help districts "determine what makes a successful high school graduate," the Topeka Capital-Journal (http://bit.ly/2q5TzjE ) reported.

Watson said the schools will base their redesign on the five goals of the "Kansans Can" vision for the students' success. Those are locally measured social and emotional growth; kindergarten readiness; individual study plan focused on career interest; high school graduation rates; and postsecondary completion and attendance.

The districts will designate one elementary and one secondary school to be part of the project, which is being funded with $500,000 in federal money. A portion of that money will also be used to pay two full-time Kansas Department of Education staff members who will work with the selected schools in the fall.

"This is something we've been talking about but we had to make sure we had the funding," Watson said. "We want to hire these people by July 1. It's a tight time frame. It's an ambitious schedule going forward."

Each district will be named after the United States' first astronaut class, known as the Mercury Seven. The astronauts were: Scott Carpenter, Gordon Cooper, John Glenn, Gus Grissom, Wally Schirra, Alan Shepard and Deke Slayton. Watson said the intent is to have a "moon landing" by the 2021-2022 school year, in which the schools will have completed their redesigned model and be ready for other districts to model after them.

Watson said the districts will be chosen by September.

"This is ambitious," he said. "We're up for the challenge to do that."

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