By Tom Oster
Department of Education
Need a new challenge?
Get your school on track to proper nutrition, physical activity
Earlier this year, First Lady Michelle Obama launched a national campaign to end childhood obesity within a generation. The South Dakota School Height & Weight Report for 2008-09 shows that more than 33 percent of students in our state are overweight or obese.
We all know that poor nutrition, physical inactivity and obesity are associated with lower student achievement and increased risks of health concerns such as diabetes, asthma and heart disease.
Now is the time to take concrete steps toward addressing childhood obesity. One way to do that is by taking the HealthierUS School Challenge. Both Custer and Huron already have taken the challenge and won.
Established by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the HealthierUS School Challenge recognizes schools that are creating healthier school environments through their promotion of good nutrition and physical activity. The award requires the combined efforts of your school’s food service team, classroom teachers, school nurse, physical education teacher and parents in helping students learn to make healthier eating and lifestyle choices.
Schools that meet the criteria receive a monetary award -- $500 for Bronze, $1,000 for Silver, $1,500 for Gold, and $2,000 for the Gold Award of Distinction. They also receive a certificate of recognition, plaque and banner to hang in their school.
I encourage all schools to take a leadership role in helping students learn to make healthy choices that will last a lifetime.
For more information about this great program, click here. The South Dakota Department of Education’s Child and Adult Nutrition Services can provide technical assistance. Give the CANS staff a call at (605) 773-3413.
Hot Topic: Bullying and harassment: Navigating troubled waters
On Oct. 26, the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights issued a 10-page letter reminding schools of their requirements under federal anti-discrimination laws. The letter clarifies the relationship between bullying and discriminatory harassment under civil rights laws enforced by U.S. Ed.
“By limiting its response to a specific application of its anti-bullying disciplinary policy, a school may fail to properly consider whether the student misconduct also results in discriminatory harassment,” wrote Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights Russlynn Ali.
In a press release issued that same day, President Barack Obama said: “We’ve got to dispel the myth that bullying is just a normal rite of passage, or an inevitable part of growing up. It’s not. We have an obligation to ensure that our schools are safe for all of our kids.”
The letter comes on the heels of several suicides by young people that have been highly publicized nationally.
View the letter and accompanying fact sheet.
Changes to grad rate calculation on horizon
Effective with the 2010-11 school year, South Dakota is required by the U.S. Department of Education to report the four-year adjusted cohort graduation rate. This graduation rate will be used for reporting purposes for the following: Adequate Yearly Progress, State Performance Plan, Ed Facts Reporting and the Consolidated State Performance Plan.
Related to this requirement, the South Dakota Department of Education is seeking approval from U.S. Ed to do the following:
• Calculate graduation rate according to the Title I four-year adjusted cohort methodology
• Set a graduation rate goal of 80 percent, which is down from the current U.S. Ed approved rate of 85 percent
• Goal could also be met by showing 2 percent growth over previous year
The state will submit this proposal to U.S. Ed by early winter for its consideration.
When it comes to determining AYP for 2010-11, South Dakota also will change the racial/ethnic subgroups to match the seven subgroups required for all federal reporting:
1. Hispanic/Latino of any race
2. American Indian or Alaska Native
4. Black or African American
5. Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander
7. Two or more races
Watch for more information regarding methodology for calculating the four-year adjusted cohort graduation rate in the next Ed Online.
Common course numbering required by May 2011
The state Department of Education has completed the work started in the spring of 2010 to implement a common course numbering system for student transcripts. Districts will have until spring of 2011 to implement the codes into Infinite Campus. The new system will provide consistency in student transcripts across the state and a common understanding of the general content of courses.
Districts will need to log into Infinite Campus and align current titles/codes to the state codes. Districts must align all high school courses that are given for credit to one of the state codes.
Information regarding this process was sent to superintendents and high school principals via e-mail on Sept. 30.
The state used the National Center for Educational Statistics’ SCED codes, or School Codes for the Exchange of Data. The codes represent courses as a whole, but within Infinite Campus, districts will be able to keep their unique identifier to distinguish different semesters, trimesters or sections.
Starting in May of 2011, the state codes for courses taken in 2010-11 will need to be printed on a student's transcript. Example: Seniors will have state codes printed on their transcript for their senior year, but only district codes printed on their transcript for their junior, sophomore and freshman years.
Information about Common Course Codes can be found on the department’s website.
For technical questions, or if your district would like to contract with Infinite Campus to upload courses, contact: Infinite Campus Support website at http://support.infinitecampus.com/portal/
For questions regarding course alignment or implementation timeline, contact Becky Nelson at the Department of Education, (605) 773-3134 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
College Access Challenge funding renewed
The South Dakota College Access Challenge program, which will provide $1.5 million annually for the next five years, has been renewed to help underrepresented K-12 students in their transition to postsecondary education.
The initiative informs students and families about post high school opportunities. Many of the targeted students will be the first generation in their families to attend college.
The College Access Challenge includes a financial component to link students with possible scholarships and grants, and it helps families with the Free Application for Federal Student Aid process. The program also contains a small need-based scholarship component.
The program began in South Dakota in August 2008. It is paid for with federal funds and administered by the department’s Office of Indian Education.
Data from the South Dakota Board of Regents and Census 2000 indicate Native Americans in South Dakota are significantly underrepresented in higher education, and a disproportionate percentage of them are classified as living in poverty.
The program includes college and career counseling; advising and mentoring; college visits; and workshops that focus on postsecondary options, preparation for continued education after high school, and financial aid.
In addition to systematic professional development to help guidance counselors inform students and parents about college admissions and financial aid processes, South Dakota’s public universities will conduct orientations and coordinate college transition and retention services on individual campuses and system wide.
For more information, contact LuAnn Werdel at the Department of Education, (605) 773-3783.
Bring a flu clinic to your school
Administrators who are interested in holding a flu vaccine clinic in the school setting can contact their local Community Health Services office to discuss that possibility. Click here for a list of Community Health Services offices.
The state Department of Health provides free flu vaccine for South Dakotans ages 6 months through 18 years. While the vaccine is free, providers may charge an administration fee; the fee must be waived if the individual is unable to pay. There is no administration fee charged for Department of Health-sponsored clinics held in the school setting.
Flu vaccine also is available from private clinics and physician offices.
Immunizing children protects them from the complications of flu and also reduces the spread of the disease in schools and communities. Each year, kids account for a significant percentage of flu cases and hospitalizations from flu complications.
Learn more at http://flu.sd.gov.
- Celebrate American Education Week
- Watch for IEP Workshops
November-December, locations statewide
- South Dakota Board of Education to meet
Nov. 29, 10 a.m., Mitchell
Celebrate American Education Week
American Education Week is Nov. 14-20. The event is designed to spotlight the importance of providing every child in America with a quality public education, from kindergarten through postsecondary.
The event was started in 1921 with the National Education Association and American Legion as co-sponsors. Today, sponsors include the U.S. Department of Education, the National PTA, the American Association of School Administrators, the National School Boards Association, and others.
Schools and communities are invited to take this opportunity to celebrate the public education system and honor individuals who are making a difference in students’ lives.
For information and ideas on how to celebrate, visit www.nea.org.
Watch for IEP Workshops
The department’s Special Education Programs is conducting several IEP Workshops this fall. Workshops will cover information regarding: child find and pre-referral strategies; determining suspected areas of disabilities; prior notice/consent and procedural safeguards; evaluation procedures and reporting; developing and implementing an IEP.
Nov. 17, 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. (Mountain Time)
Western Dakota Technical Institute (main entrance), Rapid City
Session ID: 46441
Dec. 8, 8:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. (Central Time)
Governors Inn, Pierre
Session ID: 46443
To register for an event, go to http://www.escweb.net/sd_esa/ and enter the appropriate Session ID.
South Dakota Board of Education to meet
The South Dakota Board of Education will meet Nov. 29, 10 a.m., at Mitchell Technical Institute’s Technology Center at 1800 Spruce St. in Mitchell. The agenda includes public hearings regarding the Common Core State Standards and changes to the minimum standards for program approval at the four Technical Institutes.
The full board agenda should be available soon. Go to www.doe.sd.gov and click on the Board of Education link.