Kansas State Department of Education

Kansas Can School Redesign Project

Kansans are demanding higher standards in academic skills, as well as employability and citizenship skills, and the need to move away from a “one-size-fits-all” system that relies exclusively on state assessments. This new vision for education calls for a more student-focused system that provides support and resources for individual success and will require everyone to work together to make it a reality. Together, Kansans Can.

What challenge is this solution working to address?

In 2015, the Kansas State Department of Education announced a new vision for education: Kansas will lead the world in the success of each student. With only an 87.5% graduation rate, the state realized they were not meeting the needs of 13% of the state’s students. Combining a low graduation rate coupled with drastically changing workforce needs, the Kansas Can School Re-Design Project was launched in 2017 as way for the state to move away from a “one size fits all” system and towards a student-focused system that provides support and resources for individual success.

Solution Overview

Before the Kansas Can School Redesign Project launched, state education leaders asked for feedback from the community, teachers, parents, and business leaders about what they want out of schools in the future. They identified a need to move away from a “one size fits all” model and called for a new system that is student focused.

The School Redesign Project is driven by 4 principals:

  1. Student success skills: there is an integrated approach to develop social-emotional growth
  2. Personalized learning: teachers support students to have choice over their time, place, peace, and path
  3. Community partnerships: partnerships based on mutually beneficial relationships and collaboration
  4. Real world application: project-based learning, internships, and civic engagement make learning relevant.

These principals are centered around student engagement because having student engagement means students will have a say in how they structure their own learning and school day, which will foster responsibility, accountability, and critical thinking. More engagement means fewer student absences, fewer behavior referrals, and an increase in student achievement. Outcomes for measuring the progress for this student-centered learning are:

  • Social-emotional growth measured locally
  • Kindergarten readiness
  • Individual Plan of Study focused on career interests
  • High school graduation rates
  • Postsecondary success

With the launch of the School Redesign Project, in order to be considered, districts had to designate one elementary and one secondary school to be designed around the outcomes the Kansas State Department of Education had established. These outcomes, which are identified as defining a successful Kansas high school graduate and what Kansas wants it’s schools to look like in the future, are the following:

  • Academic preparation
  • Cognitive reparation
  • Technical skills
  • Employability skills
  • Civic engagement

Each district is also required to have the support of their local school board, faculty, and their local Kansas National Education Association groups. As of February 1, 2019, 47 districts and 110 school buildings are currently participating in either the Mercury 7,  Gemini I, or Gemini II “missions,” and the Apollo mission getting ready to launch this year.

Additional Resources

This solution is agile because…

It is moving Kansas away from a “one size fits all” model of education to a new, student focused system that provides support and resources for individual success. It’s designing learning around a student’s passions and interests, which increases the likelihood of that student graduating high school and pursuing a meaningful future.

Center on Reinventing Public Education