Issue Brief

Not quite sure if you know everything you should know regarding key education issues? This publication provides the details about specific topics.


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What are the State Standards, Common  Core &
Kansas College and Career Ready?

Common Core State Standards (CCSS)1 are grade-level expectations that explicitly define what students should understand and be able to do in mathematics and English language arts, from kindergarten through high school. Kansas adopted these rigorous standards in 2010, with enhancements to re-align Common Core priority standards with our own.  In 2013 Kansas approved updated standards in the two other content areas – science and history/government/social studies. All four of these content standards together are referred to as the Kansas College and Career Ready Standards.2

Consider what Common Core State Standards are NOT

Standards are NOT curriculum materials. Standards are NOT instructional strategies, nor teachers’ lesson plans. Local school districts and school boards select the curricula—instructional textbooks and materials. Teachers determine the techniques and methods they use to help students learn the curricula. Both curricula and instruction are the tools used to help students achieve state standards.


What do the standards look like?

Click on the Parent Roadmaps for concrete examples of the CCSS at every grade-level.3  A full detailed description of Kansas’ enhanced Common Core Mathematics and English Language Arts and Literacy Standards are available at the KSDE website, as well as the updated state standards in History, Government, and Social Studies and Science.1

Each of the content standards has its own organizational structure. Math, for example, is organized around groups of related standards, by grade level. Grades K-8 are structured around eleven groups, referred to as domains, with a designated set of domains prioritized at each grade level (see Table 1).4  At the high school level, the standards are organized by conceptual category:  number and quantity, algebra, functions, geometry, modeling, and probability & statistics. 

Grade-level prioritization is one of the important improvements over the previous standards, best visualized on this CCSSM Clickable Map. In the past, teachers and students were responsible for too many standards at each grade level, limiting teacher’s time to dig deep into any one domain.  The current structure differentiates those standards that are a priority for the grade level at hand, from upcoming domains that teachers address more for the purpose of laying a foundation for later learning.


Changing Education Standards?

  •  When?  K-12 education has been driven by standards since the 1990s,5  with two decades of research and evaluation to document past limitations and inform future improvements in the structure of education standards, as well as the content, implementation and ways to evaluate the public school system. States’ have typically updated their education standards every seven to ten years, spacing the revision process of each content area over successive years.
  •  Why? The changes are driven by a number of related factors that can occur over a relatively short period of time.  Since 2001 when the previous standards were adopted, for instance, new technological and scientific discoveries have been made; a good deal of research and evaluation has been conducted on education standards; new strategies for improving educational outcomes have been developed. Improvements to the 2010/2013 standards were informed by these bodies of research.

Additionally, society’s demands on youth and our public schools change from decade to decade. In 1920s, only half the school-age population even attended school. In the 1960s, teachers and students were asked to put the Civil Rights Act in place - outlawing discrimination against racial, ethnic, national and religious minorities, and women.  Not until the 1970s, were public schools expected to prevent ALL kids from dropping out (increasing 12th grade graduation rates from 65% to %100) – regardless of students learning and behavior challenges associated with poverty, language or disability. Public schools have always been expected to embrace society’s challenges, typically without adequate resources – from feeding hungry children, to screening all youth for vision and hearing needs, to preventing bullies and violence, to teaching values, preserving the arts and promoting general health (proper exercise, diet, hygiene).

The present focus on college and career readiness has a lot to do with the fact that the percentage of unskilled jobs in the U.S. labor market, attainable by young people with high school diplomas or less, have been on a steady decline from over 60% of the jobs in the 1950s, to less than 20% today. High school dropouts (formerly known as 8th grade graduates) can no longer find jobs with pensions in factories that support a family of four. At present, eight out of every ten jobs in the U.S. are classified as middle or highly skilled, requiring at least some postsecondary education or training.6

  • Nature of Change. One of the pivotal improvements to the current education standards can be characterized as ‘depth over breadth’.  In other words, the current standards have a greater focus on key concepts and processes, by prioritizing specific standards at designated grade levels.  This change is a direct response to criticism of the past: too many education standards led to superficial coverage of large amounts of content, unintentionally leaving insufficient time to explore most standards with any depth.


Who Contributed to the Development of the Common Core?

Development of the CCSS was informed by decades of states experiences with creating and implementing education standards, as well as from leading international models and rigorous educational research. The initiative was a states-led effort, launched several years ago by governors and state commissioners of education through membership in the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices (NGA Center) and Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO). To write the standards, the NGA Center and CCSSO brought together content experts, teachers, researchers and others. This group received nearly 10,000 comments on the standards during two public comment periods beginning in 2009. Comments, many of which helped shape the final version of the Common Core State Standards, came from teachers, parents, school administrators and other citizens concerned with education policy.7 For more for information about development of the CCSS, see these briefs on the criteria and considerations.8 Kansans were active participants in the extensive development and review process, contributing substantively to the Common Core reading and math standards.


Education Standards and Reauthorization of the Federal Education Act

The federal education act was supposed to be reauthorized in 2007, but has received little attention from lawmakers in Washington, D.C. until just recently (July 2013).  The Act was first passed in 1965 under the name of Elementary and Secondary Education Act and has been reauthorized six times, most recently in 2001 when it was renamed the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB)9 While reauthorization remains pending as of September 2013, Kansas State Board of Education expects to have full NCLB waiver status by the end of 2013.  The notion of state education standards were first incorporated into the federal education act in 1994 under President Clinton and then again in 2001 under President Bush. This policy change followed nearly two decades of effort to strengthen K-12 education by states governors, educators, business leaders, and parents from across the country (see History of Standards-based Education Reform;  National Education Goals Panel archives; Goals 2000: Educate America  Act of 1994).    


Status of Implementation

To date, over 45 states have adopted the standards, in addition to the District of Columbia, Guam, American Samoan Islands, US Virgin Islands and the Anchorage, AK School District.  Click here for Interactive Map


Additional Resources & References

KSDE CCSSI: Most Common Parent Questions;  Kansas Common Core Standards Fact Sheet (2011-2012); KSDE Fact Sheet:  Data Collection and the Common CorePTA Parent Resource GuideState Specific Tools


Education and the Kansas Constitution In 1859, Kansas founders made education a clear priority in the framework of our state’s governance structure. Four of the eight conditions established in the initial pages of our Constitution are devoted to establishing resources for public education. Article 6 further defines the state’s obligation for the provision of suitable finance for our public schools and the expectation for students’ educational improvements.

Kansas Constitution, Ordinance (1859)1  
... Be it ordained by the people of Kansas... That the following conditions be agreed to by congress:

1: School sections. Sections numbered sixteen and thirty-six in each township in the state, including Indian reservations and trust lands, shall be granted to the state for the exclusive use of common schools; and when either of said sections, or any part thereof, has been disposed of, other lands of equal value, as nearly contiguous thereto as possible, shall be substituted therefore.

2: University lands. That seventy-two sections of land shall be granted to the state for the erection and maintenance of a state university.

6: Proceeds to schools. That five percentum of the proceeds of the public lands in Kansas, disposed of after the admission of the state into the union, shall be paid to the state for a fund, the income of which shall be used for the support of common schools.

7: School lands. That the five hundred thousand acres of land to which the state is entitled under the act of congress entitled "An act to appropriate the proceeds of the sales of public lands and grant pre-emption rights," approved September 4th, 1841, shall be granted to the state for the support of common schools.  Read more...

Kansas Constitution, Article 6, Education (1859, 1966)2
Article 6 is comprised of seven sections that establish the state’s constitutional obligation, as it relates specifically to education. Sections related to K-12 education are noted here:

1: Schools and related institutions and activities. The legislature shall provide for intellectual, educational, vocational and scientific improvement by establishing and maintaining public schools, educational institutions and related activities which may be organized and changed in such manner as may be provided by law.

2: State board of education and state board of regents. (a) The legislature shall provide for a state board of education which shall have general supervision of public schools, educational institutions and all the educational interests of the state, except educational functions delegated by law to the state board of regents. The state board of education shall perform such other duties as may be provided by law.

3: Members of state board of education and regents.    (a) There shall be ten members of the state board of education with overlapping terms as the legislature may prescribe. The legislature shall make provision for ten member districts, each comprised of four contiguous senatorial districts. The electors of each member district shall elect one person residing in the district as a member of the board. The legislature shall prescribe the manner in which vacancies occurring on the board shall be filled.       (c) Subsequent redistricting shall not disqualify any member of either board from service for the remainder of his term. Any member of either board may be removed from office for cause as may be provided by law.

4: Commissioner of education. The state board of education shall appoint a commissioner of education who shall serve at the pleasure of the board as its executive officer.

5: Local public schools. Local public schools under the general supervision of the state board of education shall be maintained, developed and operated by locally elected boards. When authorized by law, such boards may make and carry out agreements for cooperative operation and administration of educational programs under the general supervision of the state board of education, but such agreements shall be subject to limitation, change or termination by the legislature.

6: Finance. (b) The legislature shall make suitable provision for finance of the educational interests of the state. No tuition shall be charged for attendance at any public school to pupils required by law to attend such school, except such fees or supplemental charges as may be authorized by law. The legislature may authorize the state board of regents to establish tuition, fees and charges at institutions under its supervision. (c) No religious sect or sects shall control any part of the public educational funds.  Read more...

1 Kansas Constitution, Ordinance and Preamble (1859).

2 Kansas Constitution, Article Six: Education (1859, 1966).

Publication of the
Kansas PTA Advocacy Leadership (2012).
Mary Sinclair, PhD
Karen Wagner


A Proud History and Legacy of Advocacy

Excerpted from the Minnesota PTA website


It was 1895 when Alice McLellan Birney asked herself…


“How can the mothers be educated and the nation made to recognize the supreme importance of the child?”


In 1895, Alice McLellan Birney expressed a deep concern for the miserable condition of children and families. Because she needed more than the ever present enthusiastic support of her family, she enlisted the help of Phoebe Apperson Hearst. Phoebe Hearst, who had become a school teacher at age 16 and later married into the affluent Hearst family, became the perfect partner for Alice Birney and her concerns for the plight of children.Together they shared a vision that would “create an unprecedented movement” of dedication and determination to create a better place for countless children.



On February 17, 1897, in Washington D.C., Alice Birney and her dedicated, friend Phoebe AppersonHearst, realized their dream. It was the beginning of the National Congress of Mothers. This awakening of concerns for the welfare of children was being followed closely by Selena Sloan Butler, an elementary school teacher in Atlanta, Georgia. In 1911, with the assistance of the National Congress of Mothers and Parent-Teachers Association, Selena Butler formed the first Colored Parent-Teacher organization at the Yonge Street Elementary school in Atlanta.Through her relentless hard work, the National Congress of Colored Parents and Teachers was formed in 1926.Selena Butler was elected the first National President. The National Congress of Colored Parents and Teachers did not unite with the National PTA until 1970 because of individual state segregation laws.


In 1958 the National PTA formally authorized the use of PTSA to encourage the participation of students as “full and equal members of their PTA or PTSA”, therefore affirming the value of student voices in decisions “affecting their education, health, and welfare”.


Today, as throughout our history, we welcome many new citizens of to our communities.PTA continues to value the rich culture children and families bring to our school communities. Although we may have diverse backgrounds, we share similar concerns for the education, health and welfare of our children. PTA recognizes that families may need special helps to assimilate into our school communities. Therefore, PTA will continue to advocate for every child with one voice.


“The PTA’s first century serves as a prologue to the challenges of the future. The next ten decades will be no less critical. The National PTA will be no less vigilant.”


As we continue the work of the dedicated individuals that began this honorable movement, many parallels in the efforts of parents in the 1800’s and the parent efforts of today become apparent. We still continue to advocate for children and families in many of the same areas of concern.

  • Appropriate class size

― This was an immediate concern of the National Congress.

  • Promoting the teaching of the arts

― In 1969 the National Reflections Arts Program was started by Mary Lou Anderson to showcase the importance of arts in education.

  • Increased funding for public education

― In 1905 the National Congress passed a landmark resolution calling for federal assistance for the education of children in kindergarten classes and elementary schools.


Links to full detials below:

Excerpts from the Minnesota PTA website @

History and Legacy from the National PTA website @


Publication of the Kansas PTA Advocacy Team (2011).

Debbie Lawson

Nancy Niles Lusk

Mary Sinclair, PhD


The Kansas legislature consists of two chambers — the House of Representatives (125 members) and the Senate (40 members). Each Kansan is represented by one member in each chamber. Legislators from both houses are referred to as members of Congress. Outlined below is the most basic route and timeline a bill would follow in order to become a law.



JAN – Introducing a Bill.  Any member of Congress may introduce legislation. The bill is given a number according to the order and chamber it was introduced and then referred to a committee within the chamber of origin. For example, the tenth bill introduced by a state Senator on an issue related to school transportation would be assigned the number SB10 and would most likely be referred to the Senate Standing Committee on Education.


JAN – Committee Action. Committee chairpersons are assigned by the political party in power. Each committee has a chair, vice chair and ranking minority party member. The chairperson decides whether or not a bill will dead-end or be given a hearing or a “mark-up” for further action. The chairperson then decides whether to hold a vote to move the bill out of committee.


FEB  – Floor Debate and Votes Once a bill is voted out of committee, the next opportunity for action is an introduction to all members of its chamber of origin. In the House of Representatives, the speaker of the house determines if and when a bill will come before the full body for a vote. In the Senate, this is the function of the majority leader. Each chamber of the legislative branch has a different process for voting on and amending bills after they are introduced.


MARCH – Referral to the Other Chamber.  After a bill has been passed by one chamber of Congress, it is then referred to the other chamber. Upon receiving a referred bill, the second chamber may consider the bill as it was received, reject it, or amend it.


APRIL  – Conference on a Bill.  If the House and Senate versions of a bill vary after passing both chambers, a conference committee is created to reconcile the two different versions of the bill. If no agreement can be reached, the bill dies. If the conference committee is able to come to a consensus, both the House and Senate must pass the new version of the bill. If either chamber does not pass this version, the bill dies. Often, the House and Senate committees of jurisdiction will negotiate provision of non-controversial bills to avoid conference.


APRIL – Action by the Governor.  After the final version of the bill is passed in both chambers of the legislature, it is sent to the Governor to be signed into law. The Governor can either pass the bill with a signature or veto the bill. Taking no action is referred to as a “pocket-veto”. The state legislature can override a veto with two-thirds of the roll call vote and change the bill into a law.


last week of APRIL – Veto Session.  Both chambers of the Kansas legislature have the option to reconvene after the regular session to vote on any bills the Governor may have vetoed. Recently, this time has been used by the legislature to resolve major budget bills that should have been completed during the regular session.


Excerpted from Kansas Action for Children and National PTA — links to full details below:

How a Bill Becomes a Law — PDF download from the National PTA website.

The Kansas legislative process— PDF download from the Kansas Advocacy Center.

Publication of the Kansas PTA Advocacy Team (2011).  

Debbie Lawson  

Nancy Niles Lusk

Mary Sinclair, PhD