KS

 

Report: Science reduced in Kan. elementary schools

Elementary schools in Kansas and four surrounding states have drastically reduced or even eliminated instruction in science because teachers feel pressured to improve performance in math and reading, according to a survey conducted by a Kansas school superintendent.

George Griffith, superintendent of the Trego school district and a member of a Kansas committee drawing up new national science standards, told the Kansas Board of Education on Tuesday that he surveyed more than 900 elementary teachers in Kansas, Colorado, Missouri, Oklahoma and Nebraska as part of a doctoral dissertation.

His survey found as many as one in five elementary teachers in the states are reporting science grades on student report cards, even though they don't teach the subject or test pupils in it, The Lawrence Journal-World reported (http://bit.ly/ZsspOV ). The teachers said pressure to increase performance on reading and math tests prompted them reduce class time for science.

"I identified that a little over 55 percent of our K-6 teachers have decreased science education," Griffith said. "The average was between 30 minutes to an hour per week that they have cut it, with the main reason that they want to focus on reading and math assessments."

He said some of the pressure was from administrators and some came from the teachers' own beliefs.

Griffith said when he presented his findings to national organizations of science teachers, few people were surprised.

"This seems to be an ongoing theme around the country," he said. "It's not just in Kansas."

The federal No Child Left Behind Law tied federal funding for schools that serve high concentrations of low-income families to student achievement on reading and math tests. All schools were required to meet increasingly higher benchmarks each year for the number of students who scored proficient or better on standardized tests in those two subjects.

Kansas schools no longer have to meet those benchmarks because the state recently received a waiver from No Child Left Behind. But schools are still accountable for student performance in reading and math, using different measurements that consider more than the number of students who score above a certain level.

Board member Ken Willard, a Hutchinson Republican, said he wanted to know more about teachers who give grades in science without teaching it.

"That is unconscionable. It reflects a lack of integrity and it is not appropriate for Kansas students," he said.

source: http://www.seattlepi.com/news/article/Report-Science-reduced-in-Kan-elementary-schools-4036406.php 


Walden University Announces 2012 Educator for a Day Grant Recipients

Now in the sixth consecutive year of its grant program supporting nationwide National Education Association (NEA) Educator for a Day events, The Richard W. Riley College of Education and Leadership at Walden University today announced the five preK–12 schools that will each receive a $5,000 grant. The funds will be used to enhance classroom education, provide educational technology or supplies or sponsor special activities. Since the grant program began in 2006, thousands of educators and students have benefited from Walden's Educator for a Day grants to help improve teaching and learning in their schools.

"Educators and administrators across the country go above and beyond to make a difference in the lives of our children every day, and this year's five recipients illustrate that dedication and creativity are alive and well in our nation's education community," said Dr. Kate Steffens, dean of the Riley College of Education and Leadership.

Grants were awarded based on teachers' and administrators' answers to essay questions about what noneducators should know about their school, what makes their school unique and how their school would use the grant money. Applicants also shared their ideas for hosting at least one aspiring educator who will shadow a teacher during Educator for a Day events on Thursday, Nov. 15. Educator for a Day events are part of the NEA's 90th anniversary celebration of American Education Week.

"This grant provides us an opportunity to continue to provide quality education to our students in a partnership with parents and the community. With this generous funding we can also explore new projects that give our students additional assistance and support as they work toward their academic goals," said Doug Bridwell, principal at Goddard High School, one of the five schools receiving the grant.

The 2012 Educator for a Day grant recipients are:

Dulaney High School, Timonium, Md. Ranked by Newsweek among the top 1% of public high schools in the United States, the school will invite parents and stakeholders into classrooms to shadow, co-teach and provide real-world examples illustrating how the content students are learning in school is relevant to workforce skills. The grant will be used to fund "Building Your Future," an all-day sophomore retreat using the talents of teachers, counselors, juniors and seniors, parents and community members to assist 10th-graders in planning for their future.

Dwight D. Eisenhower Middle School, Laurel, Md. Located in an urban environment, the school's goal is to make sure that all students are exposed to aspects of science and technology. Scientists from the Howard B. Owens Science Center will shadow educators and participate in different research activities and experiments while sharing their expertise. The grant will help fund a Mathematics and Science Saturday Institute for the school's students and a select group of students from elementary feeder schools, using a curriculum prepared by the Owens Science Center and the Prince George's County Public Schools science department. 

Goddard High School, Goddard, Kan. A 2012 Blue Ribbon School located in a rural setting with urban ties, the school's event will focus on a day in the life of educators, with students from local higher education institutions who have expressed an interest in becoming an educator participating. The grant will be used to create a Parent University for the Goddard High School community to assist parents in providing skill training to their children and will also provide information about homework help, college and career readiness and making high school successful.

Kilmer Center School, Vienna, Va. A public special education center serving students with severe intellectual disabilities paired with a medically fragile status and students with intellectual disability paired with severe autism and behavioral disorders. The event will demystify the student population by letting guest educators know what to expect in terms of disabilities, behaviors, adaptive equipment, progress measurement and achievement celebration. The grant will be used to expand a new expressive-arts program, which is a modified music-education class created to give students guided opportunities to find their voice through investigating different modes of expression. 

Kumeyaay Elementary SchoolSan Diego, Calif. Serving a diverse student population speaking 19 different home languages and also a large military community, the school's Educator for a Day event will feature three of its teachers of the year, who will introduce the rewards of teaching via participation in hands-on classroom activities to 20 guest educators. The school will use the grant to ignite students' interest in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education through an active learning environment, including an entry-level robotics program.

The Riley College of Education and Leadership, accredited by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE), is the choice of more than 53,000 students and alumni who are leaders in their classrooms and schools, including more than 80 state teachers of the year. The college is dedicated to improving educators' effectiveness and preparing them to make a positive impact on student achievement.

The college became a proud partner of the NEA Academy in October 2010. For more information about the college's degree programs, visit www.WaldenU.edu/education.

 

source: http://www.sacbee.com/2012/11/12/4979896/walden-university-announces-2012.html

 

 


KU will use grant to study climate change

University of Kansas researchers are receiving a $1.7 million federal grant to study climate change.

The National Science Foundation is awarding the money over three years. It will help the university’s Center for Remote Sensing of Ice Sheets develop enhanced radar that can capture higher-resolution images of polar ice sheets.

The ultra-wideband radar will provide more information on things like the conditions of the layers toward the top of an ice sheet. Radar images also help researchers study things such as whether there is water underneath, which can contribute to one area of an ice sheet moving faster than the surrounding ice.

Researchers will use the images to find the best spots to drill for ice core samples. Those samples provide a record of climate conditions at certain times.

 

source: http://www.kansascity.com/2012/11/07/3905980/ku-will-use-grant-to-study-climate.html


KU breaks ground on $80M engineering expansion

A surge in engineering enrollment at The University of Kansas precipitated the groundbreaking Friday for an $80 million project to expand academic facilities to meet the needs of industry in the state.

The state of Kansas invested $35 million, with the balance drawn from university sources, for construction of infrastructure to support rapid expansion of the number of KU engineering graduates.

"It will provide a state-of-the art learning environment for a growing number of students, space for additional faculty, and a home to many of the services essential to recruiting and retaining high-quality engineering and computing students to meet the demands of industry," said Stan Rolfe, interim dean of engineering.

Undergraduate enrollment at the KU engineering school this fall was a record 2,151 students. That reflected a 22 percent increase in freshman enrollment.

The Kansas Legislature, responding to a shortage of in-state engineering graduates, opened the door to direct investment by the Kansas Department of Commerce in the 140,000-square-foot university project, consisting of two separate buildings. The $45 million from KU will be drawn from donor gifts, research funding and sale of bonds.

In the core of the Lawrence campus, a four-story, 110,000-square-foot structure will accommodate engineering instruction and research, as well as student recruitment, retention and career services.

"The new building will serve as the front door for the complex — a welcoming center for new students, a resource for current students and a launching site for our newest graduates,” said JoAnn Browning, the engineering school's associate dean for administration.

On KU's west campus, a 30,000-square-foot building will house a high-bay facility, which is designed for research and development of structural systems, such as concrete piers or steel girder connections for bridges.

Included in the project is an area to support student projects, specifically engineering students dedicated to sustainable innovation in the automotive technology and energy infrastructure.

"This is a historic time for engineering education," Browning said. "It is predicted that there will be a significant shortage in available engineering talent in the United States, and this region of the country is already feeling the effects.

"That is why the engineering community appealed to the state of Kansas to help produce more engineering graduates and why our enrollments have ballooned recently."

With backing by the legislature and Gov. Sam Brownback, the state committed to financially support expansion in engineering enrollment at KU, Kansas State University and Wichita State University.

Senate President Steve Morris, a Hugoton Republican who provided key political support for the  engineering initiative, said the KU project would be important for companies throughout the state.

"In the past," Morris said, "these companies have been able to hire engineers that graduated from Kansas universities, but there was never enough of them. They would hire graduates from other parts of the country, and those folks would work out fine for two or three years, or however long it took them to get good and trained, and then they’d find opportunities other places and they didn’t have the loyalty to the state, so they’d go someplace else."

 

 

source: http://cjonline.com/news/education/2012-10-26/ku-breaks-ground-80m-engineering-expansion


FHSU Receives $1.1 Million Grant For Math, Science Education And Exploration

More than $1.1 million that will support and encourage mathematics and science teacher education at Fort Hays State University was announced at a news conference today on the university campus.

The funds come from the Noyce Foundation through the National Science Foundation. The Southwest Plains Regional Service Center, Sublette, is a collaborating agency with FHSU on the grant program.

“One of the great truths of the 21st century is that for a nation to become or remain ‘world ready,’ it must have a work force trained in science, technology, engineering and math education,” said FHSU President Edward H. Hammond.

“To do that,” he continued, “you have to have qualified teachers in those areas, called the STEM subjects. Fort Hays State has a long tradition of producing outstanding teachers of math, science and technology.”

He explained that the grant will fund two initiatives, scholarships worth more than $12,000 for students studying to become STEM teachers, and $2,400 stipends for six-week summer jobs for students and potential students at math and science camps sponsored by the university’s Science and Mathematics Education Institute (SMEI), which will manage the grant.

“This money from the Noyce Foundation will not only aid us in furtherance of the objective of improving and expanding science and math education, it is also a recognition of the great job we already do here at Fort Hays State,” he said. “For example, the Kansas Academy of Mathematics and Science allows the state’s best and brightest high school juniors and seniors to complete a minimum of 68 college credits while living and studying on the FHSU campus.”

The Noyce Foundation was created by the family of Dr. Robert N. Noyce, a co-founder of Intel and inventor of the integrated circuit.

Hammond introduced Dr. Bill Weber, assistant professor of mathematics and computer science, who will direct the scholarship program.

Weber said that during the five years of the grant period, up to six of the scholarships will be awarded each year to junior or senior education students majoring in a science or mathematics field. At FHSU that would cover biology, chemistry, physics, geosciences or mathematics. The scholarship can be used for housing, books, a computer, tuition or undergraduate research.

“We’re going to start by awarding six of these scholarships for next fall,” he said, “but this is more than just a scholarship program. We will train teacher leaders who can thrive in a rural school setting and who also have the skills and expertise to teach at a distance.”

Students can renew their scholarships for one year. Recipients must also commit to teach after graduation in a “high-needs” school district. The requirement is that they teach two years for every year they received a scholarship. High-needs schools are those serving a high percentage of families below the poverty line, those with a high percentage of students do not speak English as their first language, or those which serve rural populations.

The program seeks to train teachers who can be certified as advanced placement, or AP, teachers, which means they can teach course work that can count for college course credit. High-need school districts have a real shortage of AP-certified teachers, said Weber.

Another aspect of the program that makes it more than a simple scholarship program, said Weber, is the support that will be provided after graduation. One real problem for brand new teachers in rural and high-need school districts is that the first year is often served almost in isolation, cut off from any sort of support network. FHSU and Southwest Plains, as part of the Noyce program, will create a network of support to help new teachers get through that “induction” year, the first year out on their own.

“We’re going to create a network of teacher-leaders to help these new teachers adjust and thrive in high-need districts,” he said. “They are not going to be thrown out there to sink or swim all on their own.” 

Hammond next introduced Dr. Paul Adams, the university’s Anschutz Professor of Education and professor of physics, who is also the director of the Science and Mathematics Education Institute. Adams will direct the Summer Scholars segment of the Noyce grant program.

“While the scholarships are great to provide support for students who are already interested in teaching, we also want to increase the number of students who might consider teaching as a career,” he said. “To address this we have built in a summer program targeting students who have completed the freshman year and interested in exploring a career in science teaching.” 

The Summer Scholars program will provide each of up to six students per summer for the next four summers with $2,400 for six weeks of work in the summer STEM programs offered through the SMEI. He said the work will provide an opportunity for students “to experience teaching STEM to kids and find out for themselves the rewards of being a teacher.”

Summer programs include the Girls Math and Science Camp, the Art and Science Camp, the Robotics Camp, and the Water Park Math Camp. The SMEI also conducts sessions in Camp Invention®, a product of Invent Now Inc. These are week-long problem-solving and teamwork skills summer camps for children entering first through sixth grades.

In addition to working with youth in the SMEI programs, he said, the Noyce Summer scholars will have the opportunity to interact with expert STEM teachers, attend seminars on the teaching profession and be involved in teacher professional development workshops.

“A unique aspect of the program is that applications are open not only to FHSU students interested in teaching, but also community college students considering coming to FHSU as a teacher or students interested in transferring to FHSU,” said Adams. “Our hopes are to increase the talent pool of STEM teachers for Kansas, and specifically those coming to FHSU.”

Students must have completed at least the freshman year to be eligible for the summer program. Students must already be majors in a STEM field, or open to becoming a STEM major, said Adams.

He summed it up this way: “We’re going to pay you money to be a teacher in a math-science setting and see if that’s what you want to do as a career.”

Dr. Gavin Buffington, chair of the Department of Physics at FHSU, serves as the Noyce grant and program administrator.

Applications for the scholarships and information about that and the summer program are available through the Noyce tab on the Web page at www.fhsu.edu/smei.

source: http://www.hayspost.com/2012/10/10/fhsu-receives-1-1-million-grant-for-math-science-education-and-exploration/

 


State school board likes drift of science standards

Science standards that are under development received high marks Wednesday from the Kansas state school board for pushing hands-on instruction over textbook learning, even from members who have worried that the new guidelines will be too friendly toward evolution.

State Board of Education members praised the proposed standards for emphasizing that students in all grades should design and pursue experiments. Kansas and 25 other states are working with the National Research Council on common standards for possible adoption in their public schools.

A first draft of the proposed standards became public in May, and Kansas officials expect another to be released in November. The board receives monthly updates.

Past work on science standards in Kansas has been overshadowed by debates about how evolution should be taught. The state had five sets of standards in eight years starting in 1999, as evolution skeptics gained and lost board majorities in elections. The current, evolution-friendly standards were adopted in 2007, but state law requires them to be updated.

Evolution skeptics aren't expected to regain a majority in November's elections, even with five of 10 board seats on the ballot, so the next standards adopted in Kansas are likely to reflect mainstream scientific views that evolution is a well-founded core concept.

But board member Ken Willard, a Hutchinson Republican who has warned publicly against evolution skeptics being treated as "crackpots," likes the emphasis on hands-on learning in the draft standards.

"I'm very supportive of most everything that I've seen," he said.

And board member Kathy Martin, a Clay Center Republican who has supported past guidelines incorporating skepticism of evolution, said she believes science can't be learned only "out of a book."

"I really like what these new science standards are doing," she said. "I like the discovery-based, project-based learning."

Kansas uses its science guidelines to develop standardized tests for students that measure how well schools are teaching, which in turn influences classroom instruction. Current guidelines for each grade level start with a standard that says students will develop the skills needed to conduct scientific inquiries.

Matt Krehbiel, the education department official overseeing the state's work on the standards, said such an approach inadvertently encouraged some teachers to do "maybe one isolated project" involving hands-on learning.

"The intent of the last round was to highlight inquiry by setting it apart as its own standard," he said.

But, he said, in some classrooms, "That meant it got taught as a separate unit rather than integrated with everything else."

The only notes of caution during Wednesday's update came from board member Walt Chappell, a Wichita Republican, who questioned whether standardized tests can measure creativity. Chappell also said schools must avoid sacrificing "a foundation of knowledge."

"These kids can't be thrown out in the lake and say, 'Swim,' and then somehow they're supposed to become scientists," he said.

But Virginia Wolken, a retired high school physics and chemistry teacher from Erie in southeast Kansas, said allowing students to design and pursue their own experiments will cement their knowledge.

"When you learned to drive a car, you have may learned the rules first, but then you learned to drive by actually doing it," Wolken, who serves on a state science standards committee, said after the board's update.

Board members also see such an approach as more fun, too.

"I'll come back and take science again," said Sue Storm, an Overland Park Democrat.

 

source: http://www.kansas.com/2012/09/19/2496004/kan-school-board-likes-drift-of.html


Middle school teacher receives prestigious award

 

Angie Miller was one of two Kansas educators to be named a recipient of the prestigious Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching. Miller is a math teacher at Eisenhower Middle School. Only 97 educators across the country received this honor from President Obama.

 

The Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching is awarded annually to outstanding K-12 science and mathematics teachers from across the country. The winners are selected by a panel of distinguished scientists, mathematicians, and educators following an initial selection process done at the state level. Each year the award alternates between teachers teaching kindergarten through 6th grade and those teaching 7th through 12th grades. The 2011 awardees named today teach 7th through 12th grades.

 

Winners of this Presidential honor receive a $10,000 award from the National Science Foundation to be used at their discretion. They also are invited Washington, DC, for an awards ceremony and several days of educational and celebratory events, including visits with members of Congress and the Administration.

 

"Teaching math to middle school students is my passion and it is an honor to be recognized for what I love doing," states Mrs. Miller. "However, this is not an individual effort but the support, hard work, and commitment of many that allow me the opportunity to be named a recipient for the Presidential Award."

 

"Angie Miller is one of the finest educators that I've had the pleasure to work with in my 23 years in the profession," states Eisenhower Middle School Principal Greg Hoyt. "Angie is what I refer to as "the total package" when it comes to teaching. She has incredible content and pedagogical knowledge, but what separates Angie from the field is her drive and her passion for excellence ... for herself and for her students."

 

President Obama has committed to strengthen science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education and prepare 100,000 effective science and mathematics teachers over the next decade. These commitments build on the President's "Educate to Innovate" campaign, which has attracted more than $700 million in donations and in-kind support from corporations, philanthropies, service organizations, and others to help bolster science and technology education in the classroom.

 

source: http://www.ksnt.com/news/local/story/Middle-school-teacher-receives-prestigious-award/0KPb_h2_ckmmTQX6OBWSNA.cspx


Kansas to lead effort to write new science standards

Kansas has been selected as one of a group of states that will lead an important effort to improve science education for students nationwide. In all, 20 states will lead the development of Next Generation Science Standards, which will clearly define and integrate the content and practices students need to learn from kindergarten through high school. The National Research Council, which is the staffing arm of the National Academy of Sciences, coordinates the Next Generation Science Standards process. The standards development process is being managed by Achieve, an education reform nonprofit organization. 

"This is great news for Kansas and for Kansas students," said Kansas Education Commissioner Diane DeBacker. “As a lead state partner, Kansas will have an increased opportunity to have its voice heard as these standards come together and will reap the benefits of collaboration with other states.”

Four K-State faculty members are on the team to review proposed standards: Jackie Spears, professor of curriculum and instruction and director of the Center for Science Education; Kimberly Staples, associate professor of curriculum and instruction; Bette Grauer, assistant dean of the College of Engineering; and John Harrington, professor of geography.

National collaboration on the new science standards brings many benefits, chiefly efficiency and consistency, which will ultimately result in cost savings, according to Spears. "Like the Common Core Standards in English language arts and mathematics, this is a win-win process all the way," Spears said. "The biggest winners will be the students who currently face challenges when they move from state to state because the standards differ."

In addition to Kansas, the lead state partners are: Arizona, California, Georgia, Iowa, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Tennessee, Vermont, Washington and West Virginia.

"The lead state partners will provide important leadership and guidance throughout the development of the Next Generation Science Standards and are to be congratulated for making a strong commitment to improving science education," said Michael Cohen, president of Achieve. "This will be a collaborative process that will lead to a set of standards that provides America’s students a strong foundation in science and supports college and career readiness for all."

The development of the Next Generation Science Standards is a two-step process. The first step was building a framework that identified core ideas and practices in natural sciences and engineering that all students should be familiar with by the time they graduate. In July, the National Research Council released "A Framework for K-12 Science Education," developed by a committee representing expertise in science, teaching and learning, curriculum, assessment and education policy.

The second step is the development of science standards based on the framework. As a lead state partner, Kansas will guide the standard writing process, gather and deliver feedback from state-level committees and come together to address common issues and challenges.

Staples’ provides perspective regarding the initiative. "Our state and nation have a vested interest in the science standards and the meaningful ways it will influence both science teacher education and the scope and depth of science content and processes K-12 students will receive," she said. "We enthusiastically accept this responsibility and firmly believe the decisions and direction we select will positively impact STEM education and ultimately increase the populace of students entering STEM careers."

The lead state partners also agree to commit staff time to the initiative and, upon completion, give serious consideration to adopting the Next Generation Science Standards. In order to be considered, states had to submit a letter with the signature of the chief state school officer and chair of the state's board of education.

"Participation in this process will push Kansas to think in new ways about its process for standards development and who is at the table as that process takes place," DeBacker said. "I believe the experience will prove valuable both in the development of new science standards for Kansas and in informing our process for standards development in other content areas."

American students continue to lag internationally in science education, making them less competitive for current and future jobs. A recent U.S. Department of Commerce study shows that over the past 10 years, growth in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics, or STEM, jobs was three times greater than that of non-STEM jobs. The report also shows that STEM jobs are expected to continue to grow at a faster rate than other jobs in the coming decade.

"I believe the involvement of Kansas as a lead state partner in developing the Next Generation Science Standards provides us an opportunity to grow from our current focus on science knowledge to a focus that will engage students in the scientific and engineering enterprise," said Paul Adams, president of the Kansas Association for Teachers of Science and Anschutz professor of education and professor of physics at Fort Hays State University. "By participating in this process and embracing the Framework for K-12 Science Education, Kansas is building a solid foundation to grow a STEM-literate workforce and is investing in the future intellectual capital of the state."

For more information, visit the SDE science website atwww.ksde.org/science or the Next Generation Science Standards website at www.nextgenscience.org.

 

source: http://coe.k-state.edu/about/news/index.htm

 


 

NASA Selects Overland Park, Kansas Teacher to be "Agent of Change" for STEM Education

Christie Purdon, a teacher at Blue Valley Education Center, Overland Park, Kansas, has been awarded an Endeavor Fellowship with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). NASA's Endeavor Science Teaching Certificate Project provides live, online training for educators working to earn a STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) certificate from Teachers College, Columbia University, N.Y.

"This year marks the acceptance of 51 new Endeavor fellows in Cohort 4," said Katherine Bender, Education Specialist and lead for the project at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. "The project is funded through NASA's Office of Education. Implementation is through Glen Schuster and U.S. Satellite Laboratory, Rye, N.Y."

Teachers engage with education experts, NASA scientists, and with each other to carry back to the classroom a greater understanding of NASA discoveries, to impact student learning in real-world contexts, to inspire a next generation of explorers, scientists, engineers and astronauts.

"Endeavor offers educators research-based ways to bring relevant NASA and STEM discipline content to a school's curriculum. The project helps educators to do this effectively," said Shelley Canright, Manager of Elementary, Secondary and e-Education at NASA Headquarters in Washington. "The 2012 cohort of educators from around the U.S. represents many of our nation's future leaders in science, mathematics and technology education."

The highly-competitive NASA Fellowship is a model for effectual improvements in teacher practice. Endeavor is collaborating with the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards, promoting effective strategies for teaching and learning.

The project was designed and is administered by the U.S. Satellite Laboratory Inc., of Rye, N.Y. Funding for the program is provided through the NASA Endeavor Teacher Fellowship Trust Fund, in tribute to the dedicated crew of the space shuttle Challenger.

For additional information about the Endeavor Science Teaching Certificate Project, visit: http://www.us-satellite.net/endeavor/


Senator wants youths to have clearer career path

Steve Abrams, a former chairman of the State Board of Education and now a state senator, wants to enact a law that would place students into career and technical education paths starting in the sixth grade.

Abrams, R-El Dorado, said this will make school more relevant for students and help them focus on what they want to do when they grow up.

He said most students now are bored and just coasting through school, especially in high school.

For example, he said a student who is drifting in a trigonometry class may be able absorb the subject in a welding class. “You need trigonometry to be a good welder,” he said.

Under Abrams’ plan, every student starting in the sixth grade would have an individual career plan after taking a career assessment test. The plan would be developed by the student, parents and a Career Development Facilitator. The plan would be reviewed every year to determine whether any adjustments were needed.

Abrams said he will push for passage of the proposal during the 2011 legislative session, which starts in January.

Missing from Abrams’ plan, however, is how much it would cost.

He said he didn’t want to get into that until the Legislature made the policy decision of whether to change the school curriculum to his plan.

“If the answer is yes, the discussion of money has to occur,” he said.

Several legislators have expressed interest in the measure.

“It’s a proposal whose time has come,” said Sen. Bob Marshall, R-Fort Scott. He said it would be especially helpful to students in rural areas.

Rep. Owen Donohoe, R-Shawnee, said he believed it would increase the number of students who eventually open small businesses.

“It has tremendous potential,” he said.