Olathe elementary school helping Kansas redesign education plan

OLATHE, Kan. -- Kansas is changing the way it teaches its students.

Seven school districts across the state are part of a pilot program called Kansans Can School Redesign Project. Westview Elementary in Olathe is one of the schools taking part.

Westview Principal Jon Bell said most schools in Kansas right now are spending a lot of time teaching to tests and not really preparing students for life and real-world jobs.

"What we see is kids start in K all excited about school, and when they leave us in 5th grade, they hate school. They are burned out. They are tired of worksheets, tired of homework," Bell said.

Instead, the school will focus on project-based learning. Students pair up across grade levels for projects that encompass several subjects.

“Elementary students still need to learn how to read and do math. Those are still core academic skills, but we also know there are other skills out there other than those that are kids need to have like collaboration, teamwork, problem solving. And that’s where as a school system, we haven’t done a good job in the past," Bell said.

Other core components of the new learning style at Westview include personalized learning, socio-emotional learning and community involvement.

The seven school districts taking part are called the Mercury 7, named after the original astronauts who pioneered spaceflight.

Schools right now are in Phase 3 of the project -- or "building the rocket" as the Kansas Department of Education calls it.

"Launch Day" for Kansans Can School Redesign Project is June 1.