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Wyandotte County, Kansas




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Published by the State Department of Public Instruction
120 East Tenth, Topeka, Kansas 66612
Copyright June, 1967

We are sincerely grateful to the Kansas State Department of Education for giving us permission to transcribe and provide online the history found in this publication.

Return to Index for Kansas Educational Progress, 1858-1967, by A. F. Throckmorton

The State Department of Public Instruction
Part IV - Division of Certification and Accreditation

Teacher Certification

The experience of Miss Rosella Honey, who lived in the Elm Creek Settlement where Clyde is now located, typifies certification procedures early in the state's history.  In the spring of 1864 this prospective young teacher presented herself at the county seat of Washington County to take examination for a certificate.  The records show that she made the sixty mile round trip twice because the county superintendent was not at home the first time.  Requirements for certification were not very demanding as this applicant qualified by writing her name; reading a paragraph from a newspaper; and answering some oral questions in grammar, geography, and arithmetic.  With this evidence of ability, she began teaching the Elm Creek school that fall.

From territorial days, Kansas required that public school teachers be certified.  The sole responsibility of the first state board of education was to certify teachers.  However, until the 1930's, most teachers could find certifying agencies more conveniently located than in the capital city where the state board of education met.  County superintendents were first given certification authority in territorial days and continued active in that field until 1937. 

In 1877 county normal institutes were established, replacing senatorial district institutes, which had been conducted by the state superintendents.  The institutes, which were closely supervised by the state board of education and constituted the only professional preparation available to many teachers, were established to meet the demands of citizens for better qualified elementary teachers.  Until 1915 these institutes, held during the summer months, were of four weeks duration, but after that date the county superintendent could meet requirements by providing a program of from five to twenty days.  Until 1939, the institute instructors were required to hold certificates issued by the state board of education.  One of the four examinations administered annually by county superintendents was held at the close of institute.  Since 1937 the county institutes have been briefing sessions of from two to five days in length.

Another step to insure better preparation of elementary teachers was taken by the Legislature in 1909 by authorizing accredited high schools to establish normal training programs for prospective teachers.  High school graduates who satisfactorily completed work prescribed by the state board of education became eligible for certification upon passing an examination conducted under supervision of the state board.  With the encouragement of a $500 subsidy to each participating high school, the normal training program reached its height in 1924 with 349 high schools giving instruction in such courses.

Not only did the normal training high schools provide a minimum of professional preparation for teachers, but the graduates of these schools helped supply the demand for thousands of beginning teachers.  Tenure in rural schools was extremely short.  Girls hoped to marry after two or three years of teaching - some made it in one year - and some rural boards adopted policies under which they would not retain teachers more than two or three years regardless of their proficiency.  The high school normal training act was not terminated until 1945.

In 1943, Dr. F. Floyd Herr was appointed secretary to the state board of education.  In that capacity he administered teacher certification and the board's policies under which the teacher education institutions were accredited.  Written standards or guides for state accreditation of institutions were quite brief and general in character until 1950.  Although the composition and activities of the state board of education were expanded through successive legislative acts, the general responsibility assigned the board for passing judgment on the quality of work in colleges and universities educating teachers did not change until 1945.  State normal schools had been established at Emporia, Pittsburg, and Hays, which later became state teacher colleges.  All but Emporia eventually dropped the title "teacher," but continue to function effectively in the field of teacher education.

Dr. Herr became director of teacher certification and accreditation when the present State Department of Public Instruction was created in 1945.  He has provided state and national leadership in these fields for twenty-four years and, since 1962, has been responsible for administering elementary and secondary accreditation activities along with the college accreditation function.  A teacher supply and demand study under his direction was first made in 1944.  These studies spread to the North Central Association of Colleges and Secondary Schools, and later were made a part of the research program of the National Education Association.  He also played a prominent role in the organization of the Central States Departments of Education in 1946.  The primary objectives of this group, which remained active for a decade, were the establishment of guidelines and cooperative action among mid-western states in the development of standards for teacher certification, and the coordination of common interests in federal programs for support of education.  The organization also developed plans for reciprocity agreements among the member states.

Under the leadership of State Superintendent L. W. Brooks, 1945-1949, and Dr. Herr, the Kansas Advisory Council on Education was formed in 1947.  The council is a voluntary, independent agency whose members are named by the organizations represented.  These include institutions of higher education in the state that offer programs of four or more years, several groups of professional educators, the State Department of Public Instruction, and the Kansas Association of Boards of Education.  After 1947 state teachers colleges could no longer certify teachers, and the State Department of Public Instruction became the only certifying agency in the state.  Certifying authority had been taken away from the 105 county superintendents and the 88 first- and second-class city boards of education in 1937.  Dissatisfaction with the multiplicity of certifying agencies from earliest days of statehood finally bore fruit in the 1930's and 1940's, which indicated the need for an advisory group on teacher education.  By 1958, at least thirty-seven states were functioning with councils or advisory committees in the field of certification and teacher education.  The advisory council has been an important factor in the raising and acceptance of higher standards for teachers, and the improvement of teacher education programs in the colleges and universities.

The first assignment given the advisory council was to re-write certificate regulations and develop a set of standards for the evaluation of colleges and universities for purposes of teacher education.  An achievement for which the council deserves credit has been the reduction in kinds of certificates held by Kansas teachers.  Between 1944 and 1964, teachers of the state held no less than eighty-nine different kinds of certificates.  Today, (1967) only one type of each original standard elementary, secondary, and junior college certificate is issued, with three levels of certificates for administrators available.  These categories do not include an original one-year certificate issued at each level under some conditions.  The council also served to coordinate teacher education programs in the colleges and universities.  It conducts studies of current educational issues, provides a forum for discussion of college and public school relationships and, in its advisory capacity, facilitates the policy making responsibilities of the Department of Public Instruction.

The most difficult period in which to administer certificate regulations was during the years immediately following World War II.  Standards for elementary teachers had been drastically lowered as thousands left to engage in war work and other more lucrative occupations.  By 1945, any former teacher, upon the application of an employing board, could be certified to teach in elementary schools.  Early in the post-war period the movement toward an elementary certification requirement of a baccalaureate degree got under way.  The first step toward this goal was a requirement of twelve hours of college credit.  This standard was adopted in 1948, with successive raises in academic requirements until the baccalaureate degree for elementary teachers was reached in 1959.

Although colleges, teacher organizations, and other groups concerned about improved instruction, urged higher standards, large segments of the population and those who had been permitted to teach with minimum qualifications, engaged in a massive arm twisting movement directed against the state certifying agency as attempts were made ot obtain certificates for applicants who could not qualify.  Typical of this trying period was the county commissioner, who monopolized the time in an educational meeting called by his county superintendent.  About one-half of his criticism was leveled at those who were insisting upon better prepared teachers, while the remainder of his observations were to the effect that schools don't teach as much as in the good old days.  Then there was the board member, who testified in meeting about the ability of two teachers under whom he had received instruction as a boy.  He reported that one of these teachers had attended college while the other had not, and that the latter "knowed" a lot more than the one with college preparation.

Elementary and Secondary School Accreditation

The University of Kansas, the first accrediting agency for Kansas high schools, administered that activity from the 1870's until 1915 when the task was transferred to the State Department of Education, which was formally created that year by the Legislature.  The transfer followed criticism from public school officials, who charged that the University over-emphasized college preparatory work in its accreditation program.  Under rules and regulations adopted by the state board of education, the Department was empowered to accredit high schools and designate as standard the elementary schools entitled to such recognition.

Under a kind of ex post facto policy the accreditation of high schools was granted for a given year at the close of the term if the school had met the standards.  Under this policy neither students or school officials knew if they were working in an accredited school until the term ended.  It was not until 1959 that the accreditation status of schools was determined as of June 30 and remained in effect throughout the ensuing year.  The practice of classifying accredited high schools as A, B, or C was discontinued the same year.  The classification program worked well for a long time but eventually pressures on the Department of Public Instruction made it difficult to lower A ratings which had been held by schools for several years whether or not standards had been maintained.  Also, with little emphasis on the breadth and variety of curricular offerings as a factor in accreditation and classification, the A ratings did not provide a satisfactory criterion for judging the quality or quantity of instruction provided.  A majority of high schools offered but few courses outside college preparatory programs although until 1960 less than one-half of the state's high school graduates enrolled in college. 

Under this system of classification it appeared to the layman that a class A high school enrolling 75 students was the same kind of one offering and teaching a comprehensive diversified program.  The Department of Education in a neighboring state made a neat approach to solving a similar problem by changing the A, B, and C classifications to A, AA, and AAA.  By using this new terminology no one was offended when A became the lowest classification.

Rather than attempt to rejuvenate the classification system that had been used for more than forty years, the Department tackled this problem in 1957 by revising the whole accreditation procedure.  Hundreds of administrators, teachers, and college personnel collaborated in revision of the standards which, after two years of work and study, were formally approved by the state board of education in 1959 for use during a two-year transition from the old to the new plans.  The revised standards became the basis for accrediting all high schools in the year 1961-62.

Thr new standards provided for three categories of high schools, the comprehensive, the standard, and the approved.  Distinctions are both quantitative and qualitative with the old classifications of A, B, and C no longer used.  Inasmuch as 1965 legislation requires all high schools to offer and teach a minimum of thirty units of instruction in addition to meeting the highest requirements for teacher preparation, and maintain a balanced selection of courses.  Standard high schools must meet the same rquirements but need teach only thirty units of work, which is the minimum permitted by statute.

Schools accredited as comprehensive or standard may receive special recognition as meeting the highest standards of excellence if results of a self-evaluation and a study by a committee of qualified personnel named by the Department indicate the school merits such rating.

Early in the 1920's, the state board of education adopted standards for the accreditation of junior high schools, but no classification system for them has been used.  Until recently, junior high school accreditation practices have been somewhat sketchy under loosely drawn standards.  More attention has been given to upgrading these schools since a specialist in the field joined the accreditation section in 1963.  Under his direction, a two-year study has been made of the junior high school, and there has been prepared an evaluation guide, which promises to strengthen this segment of the public school system.

Standards adopted by the state board of education for elementary schools, under authorization of the 1915 act, were not used for accreditation purposes, but to stimulate improvement by issuing certificates and door plates to schools in recognition of classification as superior, standard, or approved.  For a few years after 1935, these designations were changed to A, B, and C, but aside from change of terminology, the program remained unchanged until 1945 when a self-rating plan was adopted.

In recent years, elementary schools have been accredited under procedures similar to those used in evaluating secondary schools.  Standards are published, annual organization reports are required of administrators of elementary schools, and Department consultants visit the schools and cooperate with their administrators in the evaluation process.

Driver Education

One of the first driver education courses open to the public was offered at the YMCA in Boston in 1903.  At that time there were only 32,920 automobiles in the United States.  [Annotation:  In the U.S. the number of automobiles on the road continues to increase; the number of passenger automobiles exceeds 500 million worldwide.  The Environmental Literacy Council, May 2004 website]   In 1924, the committee on education of the National Conference on Street and Highway Safety first recommended the development of safety education programs for elementary and secondary schools.  It is not known when the first course in driver education was taught in Kansas, but during the school year 1948-49 there were 39 high schools providing such instruction to 1989 students.

In the fall of 1950 the Department of Public Instruction developed and distributed the first criteria for approved driver education courses to all accredited high schools in the state.  The program expanded rapidly when state support for such instruction was provided.  The first reimbursement was made in October, 1960.  Each year the October distribution of state funds is based on the number of high school students completing credit in approved courses between July 1 of the previous year and June 30 of the year in which reimbursement is given.

A total of 31,670 students enrolled in driver education courses, which were taught in 452 Kansas high schools, during the 1965-66 school year.  It is estimated the enrollment in these courses will reach 35,000 during the 1966-67 school year.  This activity has been handled by a director attached to the accreditation section since the Department began supervision of driver education in 1950.

Kansas Junior Colleges

Kansas City, Kansas Community College

The enabling law under which junior colleges were established was enacted in 1917, and followed quite closely the national pattern for the founding of such institutions.  Kansas junior colleges were organized as high school extension courses, and continued to operate as such until 1965.  These schools were set up to meet the individual needs of citizens of the state; to meet increasing requirements for educated personnel in business and industry; and to eliminate barriers commonly affecting opportunity for post high school education, such as the absence of institutions of higher education in close proximity to persons seeking such education; financial obstacles; and the lack of motivation for continued schooling.

These colleges were accredited by the State Department of Public Instruction and operated under the supervision of that agency.  Improvement in the quality of junior colleges was significant during the 1952-60 period when standards were revised and all two-year institutions conducted evaluation studies.  Reports of these activities are on file in the office of the state superintendent.

Although the adopted philosophy of junior colleges emphasized the desirability of a comprehensive curriculum, which includes college parallel, vocational-technical, and terminal courses, many of them were prevented from implementing their plans because of limited funds.  This problem reached crisis proportions in 1965.  A contributing factor was the policy of the board for vocational education, adopted upon recommendation of its executive officer, to bypass junior colleges in the distribution of new federal funds made available in the 1961 Vocational-Technical Education Act.  With junior colleges under supervision of the Department of Public Instruction, which had no jurisdiction over vocational-technical education, the only recourse of these institutions was to file protest with the Legislature.

Law suits to test the constitutionality of delegating legislative powers to the vocational board were threatened.  The commotion caused by withholding funds from junior colleges ultimately resulted in curtailed jurisdiction of the state board of education over junior colleges, the establishment of a separate board to govern Schilling Technical Institute established in 1965, and reversal of the board's policy so that junior colleges may participate to a greater extent in the distribution of vocational funds from federal sources.

In 1964, under the authorization granted by the 1963 Legislature, the education committee of the Kansas Legislative Council published the report of a study relating to the role, function, organization, financing, and supervision of the junior colleges in Kansas.  Using this report as a blueprint, the Legislature in 1965 enacted a law which provides for a state system of community junior colleges.  This legislation names the state superintendent as the state authority for junior colleges; separates these schools from high school extension; allows for the expansion of junior college districts; authorizes additional state support for these institutions; provides for the development of a state plan under which new community junior colleges may be established, and creates a state advisory council of eleven members for these institutions.  The new legislation also provides for a director, assistant director, and secretary to constitute a junior college section in the Department of Public Instruction.  This section is attached to the division of teacher certification and accreditation.

The creation of a state system of community junior colleges has caused these two-year schools to take on new life.  Since 1964, three new junior colleges have been organized and twelve of the sixteen now established have launched building programs in order to expand facilities to accommodate expected enrollment increases.

State Scholarships

A fund with which to provide 200 scholarships each year to college freshmen was established in 1963 to meet a popular demand.  The program, which administered by the Department of Public Instruction, was recently transferred from direct supervision of the state to the junior college section of the division of teacher certification and accreditation.  The state superintendent is empowered to prescribe standards and requirements to be met by applicants for benefits, which are awarded on the basis of ability and need.  The scholarships are limited to the payment of tuition and fees at the college of the applicant's choice, but may not exceed $500 annually.  The scholarships are renewable for one year if the applicant successfully completes his freshman work.

Adult Education

This section is headed by a director, who was first employed under a foundation grant for the year 1960-61.  The Legislature failed to make an appropriation for continuing the service although there was almost unanimous support for the program from adult education groups, university extension divisions, and other interested organizations.  There is a growing demand for skilled personnel to serve business and industry,  technological advances call for retraining many adults, and those with minimum schooling are becoming aware of the need to improve themselves.

With the availability of federal funds under the Adult Basic Education Act and authorization by the 1965 Legislature to establish an adult education section, the Department again is in a position to provide services in this field.  Under a 90-10 percent finance agreement with the US Office of Education, the director and his assistant divide their time between the adult basic education program and the services launched in 1960 under the foundation grant.

Fourteen programs in basic education were conducted during 1965-66 with 1100 adults enrolled under the direction of 75 teachers, who received special preparation for the task in training programs authorized by the federal act.  Total expenditures for these activities during the first year of operation were $132,000.  Projected enrollment for 1966-1967 is 2,000 with an anticipated expenditure of $285,000.

The adult education section is in charge of a program under which the Department of Public Instruction meets the needs of adults, who have not graduated from high school, by issuing annually some 1200 certificates of academic equivalency to adults who qualify by making the required score on the General Educational Development Tests which are administered at centers strategically located in the state.  These certificates are accepted in lieu of high school diplomas by most employers, and to meet college entrance requirements by some institutions.

This section also administers a law which requires private commercial and trade schools to qualify for permits in order to solicit students in the state.  More than 150 such institutions have been granted permits since the law was revised in 1961 to include all categories of private schools operated for profit.

Return to Index for Kansas Educational Progress, 1858-1967, by A. F. Throckmorton

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History Site created on December 02, 2002
Page last updated: 02-Jan-2012

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