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University of Kansas Launches New Center for PreK-12 Equitable Learning

The Achievement & Assessment Institute (AAI) at the University of Kansas has announced the new Center for Evaluation and Educational Leadership (CEEL), whose mission is to support district- and building-level leaders to lead, organize and implement the most effective and equitable learning environments for PreK-12 students.

Neal Kingston, AAI director and University Distinguished Professor, said inquiries from school districts across Kansas led the creation of the new center.

“We received requests about a range of services that intersected with many areas of work at AAI but which required inquiries of multiple center directors,” Kingston said. “Schools needed a single best place to which they could reach out. As a result, we recognized both a need and an opportunity to further our mission of improving the lives of children and adults, especially students and educators.”

The Center for Evaluation and Educational Leadership draws on overlapping areas of expertise and research housed within AAI and with faculty within the School of Education & Human Sciences and creates a specific, service-minded focus.

Representatives of CEEL will meet with school district leaders to develop and implement strategic plans that lead to educational success and ensure all student populations have access to high-quality supports and services. Plans will be customized to a district’s specific need, while also adhering to the Kansas Education Systems Accreditation process and meeting the Kansas Legislature’s statutory requirements for a comprehensive needs assessment.

To help design the new center, AAI engaged the services of consulting firm Neuenswander Educational Consulting LLC, which worked with various interested parties, drawing on the latest research to help shape the scope of the new center.

“The new center will focus on the structures that surround education, since a child’s education is the result of several layers of input, such as the classroom itself, a school’s administrative practice, its district and the broader community in which the school resides,” said Rick Ginsberg, dean of the School of Education & Human Sciences.

“The main goal is to support educators at the district level, but we also want to involve the community in our process,” he said. “As such, in addition to needs assessments, strategic planning trainings and developing district plans, we envision community participation to be an important part of the center’s process.”

Kingston said, “Education has many influencing factors. With this new center, we aim to be a critical support for schools and districts throughout Kansas.”

School districts interested in engaging the new center can contact Neal Kingston at nkingsto@ku.edu or email ceel@ku.edu.