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

It is my pleasure to be serving as your Interim Secretary of Education. I am passionate about doing the right thing for the schools and students of South Dakota. While budget discussions will dominate the conversation for the next few months, I look forward to a time when we can talk about innovative ideas to make our education system even better!

For this month’s column, I am offering a quick update on three areas that are on my radar screen:

News from the State Capitol
While the Governor has been very clear that we all need to share in the burden to address the state’s structural deficit, he and other law makers are looking for ways to help ease the burden for schools. One example: The Governor has introduced SB 200, which would repeal the fund balance cap. That bill moved easily through the Senate and is on its way to the House.

We’ve also seen several bills to ease certain restrictions on the capital outlay fund. One of these bills, SB 111, also has made it through the Senate and is on its way to the House.

Not surprisingly, we haven’t seen the volume of bills we’ve seen in previous years. There have been a number of bills requiring districts to adopt certain policies (eg., bullying policy, hazing policy). On those bills, the department has consistently asked that the Legislature honor local control and let local leaders make decisions that are appropriate to their unique circumstances.

News from the Feds
We know that the Obama administration is pushing for reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act sooner rather than later. At the state level, we have been laying the groundwork on this issue for nearly a year now.

Recently, Governor Daugaard sent a letter to our state’s Congressional delegation outlining our wish for a speedy reauthorization. South Dakota is a member of the Council of Chief State School Officers, which also has been advocating for reauthorization. It is CCSSO’s position, and one that we support, that if reauthorization does not occur in a timely manner, states may choose to exercise authority granted under NCLB to propose their own accountability models.

Feedback from you
Last December, many of you responded to the department’s Customer Service Survey. Please know that we take your feedback seriously, and we fully understand that there are areas we can make improvement. Our management team is reviewing your responses and developing specific strategies on how we can address some of the common concerns. We see ourselves as a support agency, rather than a regulatory agency (although we do some of that too!), and will continue to take steps to provide better customer service to our districts.

Hot Topic: New twist to AYP this year

When determining adequate yearly progress this year, the Department of Education plans to use the four-year adjusted cohort graduation rate. All states will be required to use this new calculation next year; South Dakota is choosing to move ahead this year.

“Graduation rate is one of the major factors used to determine AYP,” said Dr. Melody Schopp, interim secretary of the South Dakota Department of Education, “so we don’t take this change lightly. We do anticipate that we will see a drop in the statewide graduation rate, and individual districts could see a drop as well.”

To that end, the department has requested to change its graduation rate goal for 2011 from 85 percent to 80 percent, as the transition takes place. This change needs to be approved by the U.S. Department of Education; to date, that approval has not been received.

The four-year adjusted cohort graduation rate is defined as the number of students who graduate in four years with a regular high school diploma divided by the number of students who form the adjusted cohort for the graduating class. From the beginning of 9th grade, students who are entering that grade for the first time form a cohort that is subsequently “adjusted” by: 1) adding any students who transfer into the cohort later during the 9th grade and the next three years, and 2) subtracting any students who transfer out, emigrate to another country, or die during that same period.

The calculation is a deviation from what was previously used. Under the old calculation, for example, it didn’t matter how long it took a student to complete high school. Under the new calculation, the student has to complete high school in four years.

To learn more about the mechanics of the new four-year adjusted cohort graduation rate, read this Q&A.

Data questions can be directed to Judy Merriman, South Dakota Department of Education, at (605) 773-4737 or judy.merriman@state.sd.us

Policy questions can be directed to Janet Ricketts, South Dakota Department of Education, at (605) 773-4689 or janet.ricketts@state.sd.us

South Dakota students outperform nation in science

Results of the science portion of the 2009 National Assessment of Educational Progress were released last month, and South Dakota’s scores are at the top.

At grade 8, South Dakota’s average scale score was 161, compared to the national average of 149. Only one state scored higher than South Dakota, five scored about the same, and 40 scored lower.

At grade 4, South Dakota’s average scale score was 157, compared to the national average of 149. Only eight states scored higher than South Dakota, nine scored about the same, and 29 scored lower.

“These results are a testament to South Dakota’s schools, teachers and students,” said Dr. Melody Schopp, interim secretary of the South Dakota Department of Education.

When reviewing assessment data, state leaders look at achievement gaps between various sub-groups, with a particular focus on American Indian students since they are the state’s largest minority population. At the 4th grade level, South Dakota’s American Indian students scored below the national average for that sub-group. But by 8th grade, the state’s American Indian students scored at the national average.

“We would like to think this might be due to efforts targeting middle school students through South Dakota’s GEAR Up program, but we’ll need to do some investigating before we can say that for certain,” Schopp said. South Dakota’s GEAR Up program is designed to increase the number of low-income students who are prepared to enter and succeed in postsecondary education. It begins working with students when they enter middle school.

Another area that deserves watching is the gap between the scores of males and females. That gap grows between 4th and 8th grade. “As a society, we’ve got to pay special attention to nurturing our young girls in the area of science – building their skills, but even more so, building their confidence,” Schopp said.

For more information about NAEP science scores, go to http://nces.ed.gov/nationsreportcard/

Mathiesen appointed to Board of Education

Gov. Dennis Daugaard has appointed Dr. Julie Mathiesen of Sturgis to the South Dakota Board of Education.

Mathiesen will fill the remaining term of Phyllis Heineman of Sioux Falls, who resigned from the board in December after being elected to the South Dakota Senate. The term will expire on Dec. 31, 2012.

“I am pleased that Dr. Mathiesen has agreed to accept this appointment,” Gov. Daugaard said. “She was highly recommended because of her strong background and practical experience in education, and I’m sure she will be a great addition to the Board of Education.”

Dr. Mathiesen is director of Technology & Innovation in Education at Rapid City. TIE is a nonprofit, statewide organization that provides instructional improvement training and technical assistance to school leaders and teachers across the region. Mathiesen joined TIE in 2005 as a consultant and became director in 2008. She had previously taught art and biology in the Meade School District.

The South Dakota Board of Education has nine members, all appointed by the Governor and requiring state Senate confirmation.

Next SD Teacher of Year may be one of yours!

Every year, South Dakota selects a Teacher of the Year to represent the state in the national competition in Washington, D.C. In previous years, the South Dakota TOY has received a prize package including things like the use of a car for one year, a $17,000 technology package, and cash awards and honorariums.

The Department of Education reminds accredited school districts across the state to select a District Teacher of the Year, and to submit that name to their Education Service Agency. Each ESA will choose a regional Teacher of the Year, and from that group, the state winner will be chosen.

Deadlines to submit vary; please contact your regional ESA now.

The goal of the Teacher of the Year Program is to recognize and honor the tremendous contributions of the state’s outstanding classroom teachers.

A South Dakota Teacher of the Year should demonstrate the following qualities:
• Have a superior ability to inspire students of all backgrounds and abilities to learn;
• Be an exceptionally skilled and dedicated classroom teacher from a state approved or accredited school, pre-kindergarten through grade 12;
• Have the respect and admiration of students, parents and colleagues;
• Play an active and useful role in the community as well as in the school; and
• Be poised, articulate and have the energy to withstand the demanding schedule that would accompany selection as the South Dakota Teacher of the Year.

For more information, contact your ESA or Lanette Johnston at the Department of Education, (605) 773-8415 or lanette.johnston@state.sd.us

Supplemental Educational Services:
Provider applications now being accepted

Under No Child Left Behind, certain Title I schools in “school improvement” are required to provide supplemental educational services (i.e., free tutoring) to eligible students. The goal is to increase students’ academic achievement – particularly in the areas of reading/language arts and math.

Supplemental educational services are additional academic instruction and must take place outside of the regular school day by state-approved providers.

To ensure that South Dakota parents have a choice of providers, the state has an annual application period for potential providers. The application period to select supplemental service providers is now open through March 18.

Applications are reviewed and scored by a committee whose members have diverse backgrounds in the field of education. This committee then makes recommendations to approve or deny the applications. Once providers are approved, the information about their tutoring programs is released through the school districts to parents, along with a registration form. Parents choose a provider they believe will best meet their child’s educational needs.

Most providers are able to tutor students between 30 and 40 hours during the school year, sending regular progress reports to parents and teachers.

The application, scoring rubric and other information are available on the Department of Education’s website (http://doe.sd.gov/oess/SES.asp). For more information, please contact Betsy Chapman at (605) 773-4712 or betsy.chapman@state.sd.us.

Access standards for business, marketing

State standards for business courses (http://doe.sd.gov/octe/careerclusters_business.asp) and marketing courses (http://doe.sd.gov/octe/careerclusters_marketing.asp) have been developed, and are now available on the department’s website. Two different workgroups consisting of high school and postsecondary educators developed the standards.

If your school is offering a course that doesn’t show up on the list, please let the Department of Education know, so that we can begin the process of developing state standards for the course.

Questions? Contact Gerald Gramm at (605) 773-4673 or gerald.gramm@state.sd.us

Partners needed for summer food program

When school is in session, more than 56,000 South Dakota children receive free or reduced-price meals through the National School Lunch Program. During the summer, that number drops to about 10,000.

Organizations are needed to serve as Summer Food Service Program sites in South Dakota. Entities such as schools, non-profits and local governments can apply to be approved sites if they operate in low-income areas, if they serve a group of mostly low-income children, or if they are summer camps.

If your school has one or more sites where 50 percent of the students are eligible for free or reduced- price meals, your school can provide meals for children in the summer in three ways.

1. Summer Food Service Program – Schools that have an eligible site may offer meals at no charge to all area children through age 18. Other agencies may offer the program at a site within the eligible site area. SFSP has a separate agreement, and the rates of reimbursement are higher.

2. Summer School – Schools that offer summer school and want to provide meals only to children enrolled in summer school may extend their current Child Nutrition Program agreement with Child and Adult Nutrition Services. The school would receive reimbursement for meals served to children enrolled in summer school at the same rate as the school year.

3. Seamless Summer – Schools that have an eligible site may offer meals at no charge to all area children through age 18. The school generally follows the National School Lunch and School Breakfast Program regulations. There is a short amendment to the current agreement. The school receives the free rate of reimbursement for meals served to children.

The Summer Food Service Program is a federally funded program operated nationally by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and administered by the South Dakota Department of Education. This agency is an equal opportunity provider.

For more information, visit http://doe.sd.gov/cans/sfsp.asp or call Child and Adult Nutrition Services at (605) 773-3413. Training for new participants begins in March.

Nominate School Officer of the Year

Nominations are now being accepted for this year’s School Officer of the Year Award. The award is given by the South Dakota Association of School Resource Officers.

The officer picked for this award should display professionalism, dedication and commitment to their respective school or district. The SDASRO’s Executive Board will make the selection from those nominated.

Nominations must be postmarked by March 4.

Send nominations to:
Sioux Falls Police Department
320 W 4th Street
Sioux Falls, SD 57104-2785

Upcoming Events

2011 Career Development:
Making Connections Conferences

• March 8 in Brookings
• March 10 in Rapid City

The 2011 Career Development: Making Connections Conference offers teachers, school counselors and administrators insight and strategies for implementing career development programs in their classrooms and schools for the 2011-12 school year.

Held on the campuses of SDSU in Brookings and SDSM&T in Rapid City, this one-day conference focuses on the process of career development and creating meaningful and organized experiences for students as they make academic and career plans.

The conference is free to all South Dakota educators and school staff, including those from public, private and BIE schools. Click here to register online or contact Tiffany Sanderson at the Department of Education for more information.

Implementing capstone courses: Senior Experience and Entrepreneurship Experience

• March 15, 9 a.m.-3 p.m., Belle Fourche High School
(ID# 47677)
• March 16, 9 a.m.-3 p.m., Hot Springs High School
(ID# 47678)

This workshop will focus on Senior Experience and Entrepreneurship Experience Capstone courses. Participants will gain an understanding of how capstone courses support a plan of study and meet the state’s graduation requirements. The workshop is designed to assist school districts in determining the best fit for their students.

Participants will learn the components and implementation process for a Senior & Entrepreneurship Experience program. Topics include: student mentors, faculty advisors, project topic selection, program guidelines, research paper or business plan, portfolio, product and presentation requirements. Participants are asked to bring their laptops; the workshop includes time for planning.

To register, click here and then enter the appropriate session ID number (noted above).

Contact Hours will be provided at both workshops. The ideal situation is to have a team from a school district attend the workshop.

Questions? Contact Debra Wenzel, M.Ed., Department of Education, at (605) 773-4463.

Board of Education Meeting

The South Dakota Board of Education is scheduled to meet March 21-22 in Pierre. An agenda will be available soon. Watch for more information to come.

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 Amanda Keating, Psy.D., of the Center for Disabilities, and Shari Rusch Furnstahl. Keating will present on students with autism, while Rusch Furnstahl will focus on reaching the hard-to-teach and creating a positive school culture.

Registration fee is $80 and includes admission into all sessions, as well as breakfast and lunch on Wednesday and Thursday, and breakfast on Friday.

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