Secretary's Column
By Dr. Melody Schopp
Department of Education

Reauthorization: The push continues

Secretary of Education Arne Duncan recently was quoted in the news as saying that an estimated 82 percent of America's schools could fail to meet education goals set by No Child Left Behind this year. We know from experience here in South Dakota that as we draw closer to the 100 percent proficiency mark, it becomes increasingly difficult to make progress. And from the current school year until 2013-14, our AMO targets will go up each year.

Annual Measurable Objectives
School Year K-8 Reading K-8 Math 9-12 Reading 9-12 Math
2009-2010 69% 72% 62% 63%
2010-2011 76% 79% 71% 72%
2011-2012 84% 86% 80% 81%
2012-2013 92% 93% 90% 90%
2013-2014 100% 100% 100% 100%

Obviously, this is concerning to all of us in the education field. The labels that come along with the current system do nothing to enhance the education of students. Instead, we need more flexibility at the local and state levels to make decisions designed to address our unique situations. Hold us accountable … yes. But let’s make sure the system is fair, that it allows for flexibility and that it keeps the best interests of our students at the forefront.

Last week, I attended a meeting of the Council of Chief State School Officers in Washington, D.C. There is a strong desire on the part of CCSSO (of which South Dakota is a member), the U.S. Department of Education and others to see that the Elementary and Secondary Education Act be reauthorized before the start of school next fall.

While in D.C., I also had the opportunity to meet with our Congressional delegation regarding this issue. Gov. Daugaard has written to our representatives about reauthorization as well. All three members of South Dakota’s delegation are well aware of the issue and supportive of a prompt reauthorization. But as Congress continues to haggle over a budget, it’s not clear when ESEA conversations will take center stage.

What is clear is this: If reauthorization does not occur in a timely manner, states will very likely begin to apply for waivers to create their own new accountability systems – systems that are less prescriptive, provide more flexibility, and better suit their unique needs.

In the months ahead, we need to be looking at a new model for accountability in South Dakota – one which recognizes that one answer does not fit all situations. It’s a process that will require the experience and expertise of many in the education field. As the department moves ahead with this work, we will be calling on many of you to help us craft a system that is fair, flexible and focuses on the needs of our students, teachers and schools.

The work needs to happen – whether reauthorization comes tomorrow or 12 months from now. We might as well dig in and get started!

On a final note, I wanted to thank those of you who participated in our online customer service survey. We gained some valuable feedback, which we will use to focus and improve our work in the months ahead.

Hot Topics:

Schopp named secretary of education

Board approves standards for teaching

The state Board of Education recently voted to adopt Charlotte Danielson’s “Framework for Teaching” (http://www.doe.sd.gov/secretary/documents/TS_RefCard.pdf) as South Dakota’s standards for teaching. The action came at the board’s March 21 meeting.

Danielson’s framework outlines 22 main components of effective teaching in four areas: Planning and Preparation, Classroom Environment, Professional Responsibilities and Instruction. The 22 components cover a range of activities, from demonstrating knowledge of content and pedagogy to engaging students in learning, and communicating with families.

A work group consisting of teachers, administrators and parents met over the course of the last year to develop the standards. The work group’s next mission will be to develop a model evaluation instrument, which districts may use if they choose.

A bill passed during the 2010 legislative session charged the South Dakota Board of Education with developing standards for teaching in South Dakota.

Keep posted on this topic by visiting our Teacher Standards and Evaluation webpage. (http://www.doe.sd.gov/secretary/teacher_standards.asp)

What the 2011 education bills mean for your district

If you haven’t seen it yet, here’s our run-down of education-related bills passed during the 2011 legislative session and how they impact your district.

Bill Summary

Deliver technology assessment before May 13

This year’s testing window for the annual 8th Grade Technology Literacy Assessment opens April 25 and closes May 13. Under No Child Left Behind (ESEA Title II, Part D, Subpart 1), states are required to report the number of students who are considered technology literate by the end of 8th grade.

South Dakota’s 8th Grade Technology Literacy Assessment is based on the state’s educational technology standards (http://doe.sd.gov/ContentStandards/documents/BoardApprovededtechstandardsforweb.pdf). The test is also aligned to the International Society for Technology Education’s national education technology standards

The assessment is delivered completely online.

State-level results from the 2010 assessment are available on our website (http://doe.sd.gov/oats/documents/8GrT_rlts.pdf). Overall last year, 58 percent of the state’s 8th grade students fell into the proficient or advanced categories, 40 percent in the basic category, and 2 percent below basic.

Go to http://doe.sd.gov/oats/8thGradeTechAssessment.asp for more information about the assessment. Questions can be directed to Jessica Berke, South Dakota Department of Education, at Jessica.Berke@state.sd.us or (605) 773-4150.

Common Core Update:
Professional development series starts fall 2011

The department will launch a three-year professional development series designed to train teachers on the new Common Core standards in English language arts and math next fall. South Dakota is gearing up for full implementation and testing on the Common Core standards in school year 2014-15.

“We want teachers to gain a deep understanding of the new standards and how those standards will impact their instruction, as well as how the standards can be assessed,” said Dr. Melody Schopp, interim secretary of education. “It’s going to be an intensive project – one that requires time and effort. But in the long run, we believe it will be well worth the effort in terms of results for our students.”

The Common Core Professional Development series will be offered over a three-year period. Each year, a series of face-to-face workshops, coupled with online learning, will focus on designated standards. While teachers are not required to participate in all three years, it is highly recommended. The series will provide educators with a systemic model to implement the Common Core within a learning environment rich in collaboration, communication, creativity and critical thinking.

Teachers will be able to earn university credit and/or continuing education contact hours.

“We’ve already taken some feedback from districts regarding the time commitment for teachers to be out of the classroom, and we are going to take that into consideration,” Schopp said. “We will be running a pilot this summer and hope to gain valuable feedback from our participants as to how we can best balance the need for in-depth professional development with the need for teachers to be in their classrooms.”

For more information about the Common Core Professional Development series, go to http://doe.sd.gov/octe/commoncoreStandards.asp.


In an effort to communicate technology information relevant to the operation of your school, we are introducing a new feature called Tech Corner.

Brought to you by the folks at BIT (Bureau of Information and Telecommunications), Tech Corner will provide monthly insights on pressing technology issues, updates and upgrades, management issues, and information on future technology projects.

We hope you will make Tech Corner a monthly “click” to check out what’s going on in the world of technology.

Our tip for this month: Be sure to visit with your Technology Coordinator after the TIE conference held earlier this month. BIT presented important information regarding the Ethernet project and other technology initiatives at the event that you’ll want to hear about.

Students getting more writing practice
WriteToLearn numbers skyrocket during 2nd testing window

Student usage of the online literacy program WriteToLearn doubled over the course of the winter. Across the state, 34,000 students completed 259,000 essay drafts during the winter testing window, compared to 126,000 essay drafts submitted by these same students in the fall. All students in grades 5, 7 and 10 are required to submit at least one essay draft three times a year.

“The numbers tell us that teachers and students are getting a very practical use out of this tool,” said Dr. Wade Pogany, director of the Office of Assessment and Technology Systems. “Yes, WriteToLearn serves its purpose as the statewide writing assessment, but it’s also being used as a vehicle to improve student writing. And that is what is so exciting.”

The 2010-11 school year is the first year of implementation for WriteToLearn. The program is delivered completely online, and students and teachers receive immediate feedback.

“My English classes use the WriteToLearn program weekly,” said Mariella Paul, a 7th grade teacher from Hill City. Paul’s 7th graders averaged 53 drafts per student during the winter testing window. Students at Hanson High School in Alexandria use the WriteToLearn program in both their English and social studies classes on a weekly basis as well. “Since using the WriteToLearn program, I have seen improvement in most areas of the six traits of writing, especially voice, conventions, and word choice,” said Hanson high school teacher Jill Pociask.

Students are currently participating in the final testing window of the 2010-11 school year. To learn more about South Dakota’s WriteToLearn program go to http://doe.sd.gov/octa/assessment/writetolearn.asp.

Changes to Advanced Placement program for 2011-12

Due to budget cuts, there will be changes to some of the department’s Advanced Placement programs for school year 2011-12. Here’s a quick review of those changes:

AP Exam Review – The department will no longer support the AP Exam Review, which allows South Dakota students to access online AP exam reviews at no charge. Districts may still work directly with APEX for this; however, the state will no longer offer the service. NOTE: This service does remain in effect for the 2010-11 school year.

APEX AP Courses via SD Virtual School – APEX AP courses will still be available for registration on the South Dakota Virtual School site. However, there will be no funding from the state to reimburse students who take the exam and score a 3 or higher.

Learning Power AP Courses – These courses are available via South Dakota Virtual School and will remain the same for the 2011-12 school year. Funding for this program comes from the National Math and Science Initiative and the E-Learning Center at Northern State University. The Learning Power provider has told us there will be no charge to the districts/students for their courses. All students will still be required to take the designated AP exam, and students finishing with a 3 or higher will be eligible for the $100 stipend. Please contact Learning Power directly at (605) 394-1876 for any questions on their program and/or courses.

AP Test Fee Program – This program allows students who qualify for free or reduced lunch to take AP exams at no cost to themselves or their school districts. It is a U.S. Department of Education grant that the South Dakota Department of Education applies for annually. This program remains in place for the 2011 AP testing period. The state department will reapply for the grant next school year, but will not receive award notification until March or April of 2012.

PBIS targets behavior to enhance learning
Apply now to be pilot site

Looking to improve student learning outcomes while preventing problem behavior? Positive Behavioral Interventions and Support is a compilation of practices, interventions and strategies that have been proven to be effective. Schools can apply now to become PBIS pilot sites. Some funding is available. Applications are due by April 29.

For information, go to http://www.doe.sd.gov/documents/PBIS_Memo.pdf. Contact Rebecca Cain, South Dakota Department of Education, at (605) 280-3568 or Rebecca.cain@state.sd.us with questions.

School library survey due by May 18

The South Dakota State Library is charged with collecting annual data from the state’s school libraries. To that end, a short district-level school library survey has been developed. Superintendents received an email about this survey on March 30.

Each district is asked to submit one survey per district rather than one survey per library. The district librarian or other individual of the superintendent’s choice may be appointed to collect and enter the data. The survey is available online now through May 18 at http://collect.btol.com/

If you have misplaced your log-in and password, please contact the State Library at 1-800-423-6665. School Library Coordinators Lee Crary and Joan Upell will offer email and telephone assistance throughout the survey time period.

A summary of the 2010 data is available in the School Library Data Digest at http://www.library.sd.gov/SDSL/publications/index.aspx#Reports. Last year, 95 percent of districts participated.

Nominate teachers for Dakota STEP work groups

Teachers are needed for the Dakota STEP Reading, Mathematics and Science Data Review and Bias and Content Work Groups. Participating teachers must have experience in reading, math or science at one of the grade levels noted below. Special education teachers and teachers of English language learners are needed as well.

The Department of Education will reimburse participants for mileage, meals and lodging (at state rates) and will pay a stipend of $125 per eight-hour workday. The department also will reimburse each participant’s district $70 per day to go toward substitute pay, if necessary.

• Data Review Work Groups
The Data Review Work Groups are charged with the important task of reviewing Dakota STEP field test items to determine whether they should be included in future years’ tests.

The Data Review Work Groups will be separated into the following grade spans:
--Reading (grade spans of 3-6; 7-8 and 11)
--Mathematics (grade spans of 3-6; 7-8 and 11)
--Science (grade spans of 5, 8 and 11).

The Data Review work groups will meet July 12, 2011, in Sioux Falls.

• Bias and Content Work Groups
The Bias and Content Work Groups are responsible for reviewing test items for grade-appropriate content and for identifying and eliminating bias to ensure that test questions are sensitive to the diverse circumstances of all students.

The Bias and Content work groups will be separated into the following grade spans:
--Reading (grade spans of 3-4; 5-6; 7-8; 11)
--Mathematics (grade spans of 3-4; 5-6; 7-8; 11)
--Science (grade span of 5 and 8; 11).
Bias and Content work groups will meet July 13-14, 2011, in Sioux Falls. The Reading, Mathematics and Science grade 11 group will meet only July 13.

Participants will be notified with more details via e-mail once the work group has been selected in early May.

To nominate one of your teachers for this important work, click on the appropriate link below. Nominations must be received by April 29.

To nominate teachers that are interested in participating in the Reading Data Review, go to: https://spreadsheets.google.com/viewform?hl=en&formkey=dEM0Tl80aEl5Ty05a0kxaTVhSjJicEE6MA#gid=0

To nominate teachers that are interested in participating in the Mathematics Data Review, go to: https://spreadsheets.google.com/viewform?formkey=dDJhNVo5SGJkVmtGZUFKY3JROTY0TFE6MA

To nominate teachers that are interested in participating in the Science Data Review, go to: https://spreadsheets.google.com/viewform?formkey=dFBnU3o5OFhyNmdsZF9kblZfWDZqSnc6MA

To nominate teachers that are interested in participating in the Reading Bias and Content Review for grades 3-8, go to: https://spreadsheets0.google.com/viewform?hl=en&hl=en&formkey=dDlOSUJQWTduN3FWRjltTVlnc1dBblE6MA#gid=0

To nominate teachers that are interested in participating in the Reading Bias and Content Review for grade 11, go to: https://spreadsheets.google.com/viewform?hl=en&formkey=dFN4ekRkWVhxOWh3dnJSS1cybDdLS1E6MA#gid=0

To nominate teachers that are interested in participating in the Mathematics Bias and Content Review for grades 3-8, to go: https://spreadsheets.google.com/viewform?hl=en&formkey=dHNTU09aUEhrdjdCaHRtb01ZdFJQSVE6MA#gid=0

To nominate teachers that are interested in participate in the Mathematics Bias and Content Review for grade 11, go to: https://spreadsheets.google.com/viewform?hl=en&formkey=dHluX002NVlBc0MzSkQ2aVVkV0NCWGc6MA#gid=0

To nominate teachers that are interested in participating in the Science Bias and Content Review for grades 5 and 8, go to: https://spreadsheets.google.com/viewform?hl=en&formkey=dFBFSS1tUEE1Umo2d3cySzh4RGRzTlE6MA#gid=0

To nominate teachers that are interested in participating in the Science Bias and Content Review for grade 11, go to: https://spreadsheets.google.com/viewform?formkey=dGx2a1FvNjZxM3hVLVlzMmNGWUQ0b2c6MA

Questions can be directed to Gay Pickner, South Dakota Department of Education, (605) 773-3247 or Gay.Pickner@state.sd.us.

School bus association conducting national survey

South Dakota school districts that provide transportation are invited to be part of a national stop arm violation count survey. The survey is being conducted by the National Association of State Directors of Pupil Transportation Services. Its purpose is to document the problem of illegal passing of school buses. The association will use the information to develop initiatives to improve the safety of students in school bus loading zones. South Dakota is a member of the association.

South Dakota has chosen Tuesday, April 12, as the day to complete the survey. On that day, drivers are asked to fill out the form at http://www.nasdpts.org/stoparm/NASDPTSStopArmDriverForm-2011.pdf and return it to the district’s transportation contact. The district’s transportation contact, in turn, tallies the results and reports them at http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/LocalStopArmReport.

Participation is voluntary. For more information, go to http://www.nasdpts.org/stoparm/. Contact Carol Uecker, South Dakota Department of Education, with questions at (605) 773-4771 or email her at carol.uecker@state.sd.us.

Upcoming Events

South Dakota Library Week
April 10-16

The South Dakota State Library and First Lady Linda Daugaard have teamed up to promote South Dakota Library Week, April 10-16. The First Lady will be reading to children and talking about the important role that libraries play in today’s world. She will visit libraries in Dell Rapids, Sioux Falls, Pierre and Rapid City. Learn more at www.itbeginswithabook.sd.gov.

RtI Conference: Success for All Students
June 15-17
Ramkota RiverCentre, Pierre

Get an in-depth look at Response to Intervention and best practices for implementation K-12. Speakers include Wayne Callender, Partners for Learning; Dr. David Hulac, University of South Dakota; and Shannon Harken, Heartland Area Education Agency.

Participants will leave the conference with a clear understanding of the RtI model, best practices for implementation, behavioral intervention strategies, and ideas for managing complex change and building consensus.

Watch for more information to come or contact the Department of Education’s Special Education Programs at (605) 773-3678.

South Dakota Behavior Institute
June 28-30

This workshop provides schools with the opportunity to gain the knowledge and tools necessary to build positive, proactive and successful learning environments for all. Participants will learn the mechanics of behavior, gather ideas for more effective classroom management, discover behavior interventions that can be implemented for students at all levels, and build a school environment that deals proactively and positively with behaviors.

This training opportunity requires a three-part commitment from participating schools:
1) Attend the three-day training as a team with mandatory members including building principal, general and special education teachers.
2) Participate in three webinars as a team (Sept. 20, Nov. 15, 3rd date TBA)
3) Set up a time for behavior trainers to come to your school and provide all school staff with basic training (approximately two to three hours)

Cost is $20 per person. Current Positive Behavioral Interventions and Support school members get in free. Graduate and continuing education contact hours available. The workshop is hosted by the South Dakota Department of Education.

For information, contact Rebecca Cain at the Department of Education, (605) 280-3568 or rebecca.cain@state.sd.us.

UPDATED: Summer Education Conference
July 20-22
Ramkota RiverCentre, Pierre

Make plans to attend the Fourth Annual Summer Education Conference at the Ramkota RiverCentre in Pierre July 20-22. The two-and-a-half-day event features a Top 20 Training to help schools reach their full potential, as well as Shari Rusch Furnstahl, who will focus on reaching the hard-to-teach and creating a positive school culture. Michael Dorn will be returning. He will talk about how schools can reduce bullying and create an environment that's safe for all.

Registration fee is $80 and includes admission into all sessions, as well as breakfast and lunch on Wednesday and Thursday, and breakfast on Friday. Hosted by the South Dakota Department of Education.

Graduate credit is available. Be watching for information later this spring, or contact Becky Cain with questions.

Indian Education Summit
Sept. 25-27
Cedar Shore Resort, Chamberlain/Oacoma

The goal of this event is to bring partners from across South Dakota together to learn and to share ideas and insights to address the educational needs of American Indian students. The theme of this year’s event is “Supporting Culture, Building Expectations, Creating Partnerships.” Watch doe.sd.gov for more information.

Systems Change Conference
Oct. 19-21
Holiday Inn and Convention Center, Spearfish

Make plans to attend the 12th Annual Systems Change Conference Oct. 19-21 at the Spearfish Holiday Inn and Convention Center. One of South Dakota’s premier educational conferences, the event will include an awards banquet at which the 2012 South Dakota Teacher of the Year will be announced.