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Kansans Say Schools Should Focus On Non-Academic Skills

Christopher Sessums
flickr Creative Commons

At a series of recent public meetings, thousands of Kansans and business leaders described what they want students to learn in Kansas schools. As KPR’s Stephen Koranda reports, state education officials have compiled the responses and are now touring Kansas to unveil the information.

Kansas Education Commissioner Randy Watson says they got some surprising results. Instead of a focus on basic academic skills like reading and math, businesses and Kansans said they want students to have more non-academic skills, like teamwork, communication and persistence.

“We thought it would be really 50/50, and Kansans told us, ‘It’s about 70 percent of the skill set we want,’ and then we were really shocked that business was even higher,” Watson says.

Watson says they’ll now need to find ways to partner with businesses and bring families into the fold to help students develop those non-academic skills.

The Kansas Board of Education will use the information as they develop their overarching goals for K-12 education in Kansas.

Stephen Koranda is Statehouse reporter for Kansas Public Radio and the Kansas News Service, a collaboration of KCUR, KMUW, Kansas Public Radio and High Plains Radio covering health, education and politics.