TOPEKA, Kan. — Kansas schools have been back in session for at least a couple of weeks now, with many students learning remotely full-time or a couple days out of the week.
But after complaints from parents, teachers and superintendents, the Kansas State Department of Education (KSDE) has already made changes to the remote learning plan.
The department put requirements in place to make sure students were completing their work each day.
Originally, this was a daily log that parents and students had to fill out. The log asked what activities were done that day, whether assignments were completed and tests were taken, the total minutes spent on each class and finally a signature from the parent.
This log was required to be filled out for every class, every day that the student was learning remotely. According to KSDE, parents and school districts were struggling to get the forms done.
Shannon Rundell Hoskinson has three children who are learning remotely three days out of the week. She said the logs were time-consuming and confusing.
“Trying to fill it out felt confusing as I didn’t quite understand exactly what I was supposed to put down and how accurate it was supposed to be,” she said. “It was a headache, confusing and a distraction from what was most important which is spending time helping kids when they need it or working my own job.”
The Kansas Association of School Boards (KASB) received similar complaints from school staff.
“Tremendous amount of concern,” explained Mark Tallman, Associate Director of KASB. “People were spending so much time worrying about those and parents weren’t sure what to do with them and frankly there was no way to audit them anyway.”
After hearing the feedback, KSDE changed the requirements. Now, parents are just asked to fill out and sign and date a form assuring their child will complete the assigned work and will remain in contact with teachers.
“The idea is to basically say, ‘Here’s what the districts can do, here’s what the parents can do to try to make sure the child is learning,'” said Tallman.
Tallman added that KASB has already heard from school districts that the change has relieved a lot of pressure from both parents and staff.
Hoskinson said the new form is a much better compromise. She said the old forms were not practical for parents trying to navigate remote learning.
“The log honestly shows the lack of understanding of what remote learning actually entails.”
While KSDE is no longer requiring the more detailed daily log, it is ultimately up to the school districts to decide if they want to continue using it.