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

Changing the way we approach teacher evaluation

Last week, we had the privilege of hosting Charlotte Danielson in South Dakota. She spoke to the work group that has been meeting to develop teaching standards for South Dakota. As you are aware, the state board has adopted Danielson’s framework as South Dakota’s state standards and is working to move them to administrative rule.

Adoption of the Danielson framework as our state standards provides us with a tremendous opportunity to change the way we approach teacher evaluation in South Dakota. At its very core, the Danielson model encourages us, as educators, to engage in continual self-reflection and to approach evaluation not as a punitive function but as an opportunity to grow in our practice. This type of authentic approach will require a paradigm shift in the way we operate. But it’s one that I believe will pay great dividends in terms of the quality of teaching across our state. South Dakota has some of the most dedicated educators in the country, and the framework serves to recognize the work that they do, and to elevate the teaching profession.

I am thankful that Charlotte was able to join our group, and I believe her insight and experience will prove invaluable as we move forward with developing a model evaluation tool.

You will be hearing much more about this topic in the months ahead, as we talk about its relationship to the Common Core work that also is going on statewide.

On another note, a number of employees here at the department have been personally impacted by Missouri River flooding. At times like these, I am reminded of what is truly important in life. The outpouring of support has been amazing to watch, and thanks to all of you who have been keeping our communities in your thoughts and prayers.

Hot Topics:

Canton, Sioux Falls earn Project Lead the Way certification

The South Dakota Board of Education recognized two Project Lead the Way programs at its meeting last month. Both programs recently earned PLTW certification.

The Canton School District’s PLTW program was certified in engineering. The Sioux Falls Career and Technical Education Academy was certified in Biomedical Sciences and Engineering.

Project Lead the Way partners with schools to provide a rigorous and relevant STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) education. Through an engaging, hands-on curriculum, PLTW encourages the development of problem-solving skills, critical thinking, creative and innovative reasoning, and a love of learning.

To earn certification, a school must meet rigorous standards. Once certified, students have the opportunity to earn college credit for work done in that program.

Congratulations to Canton and Sioux Falls! To learn more about PLTW in South Dakota, go to http://www.doe.sd.gov/octe/sdpltw.asp.

Preparing for new laws to take effect

When July 1, 2011, arrives, several new laws will impact school districts in South Dakota. Below is a quick review of a few of them. Go to http://www.doe.sd.gov/pressroom/educationonline/2011/April/documents/BillSummary.pdf for a more complete list of education-related bills passed by the 2011 Legislature.

Student-athletes and concussions
Under SB 149, there are new requirements related to youth athletes, their parents and suspected concussions. There is also a new training requirement for coaches participating in South Dakota High School Activities Association-sanctioned events. To view the full text of SB 149 go to http://legis.state.sd.us/sessions/2011/Bills/SB149ENR.pdf to find out what is required under the new law.

The activities association website has a variety of information and sample forms related to this topic. Go to http://www.sdhsaa.com/ or call SDHSAA at (605) 224-9261.

Homeschool exemption
Under HB 1133 (http://legis.state.sd.us/sessions/2011/Bills/HB1133ENR.pdf), an exemption for alternative instruction is effective immediately upon filing with the school district. No school board action is required. An exemption may still be revoked later, per existing statutes. The Department of Education will be posting a new public school exemption form online soon.

Jump Start Scholarship
HB 1175 created the Jump Start Scholarship. The purpose of the program is to allow a student who graduates from a public high school in three years or less to receive a scholarship funded with a portion of the money saved by the state in state aid to education funding, as a result of the student’s early graduation. View HB 1175 (http://legis.state.sd.us/sessions/2011/Bills/HB1175ENR.pdf) to see the details of the scholarship.

For more information, contact the South Dakota Board of Regents (http://www.sdbor.edu/) at (605) 773-3455.

School counselors
Dubbed the “truth in advertising bill,” HB 1070 (http://legis.state.sd.us/sessions/2011/Bills/HB1070ENR.pdf) requires that if a districts employs a school counselor – on a full-time, part-time or contractual basis – that individual must be certified. It takes not take effect until July 1, 2016. The bill does not mandate that every district employ a school counselor.

Annual report deadline
HB 1080 (http://legis.state.sd.us/sessions/2011/Bills/HB1080ENR.pdf) gives districts additional time to complete and submit their annual report. Under the old law, an annual report was considered past due, and subject to penalty, if not filed prior to Aug. 15. Under the new law, the deadline will be Aug. 30.

Background checks, bus driver training and more
HB 1208 covered a range of topics, from district employees footing the bill for their own background checks to a change in the bus driver training requirement. View the full text of HB 1208 at http://legis.state.sd.us/sessions/2011/Bills/HB1208ENR.pdf.

Capital outlay extension
Under SB 111 (http://legis.state.sd.us/sessions/2011/Bills/SB111ENR.pdf), school districts may continue to use their capital outlay fund to cover property and casualty insurance, energy and utilities costs, and fuel and transportation costs for another two years. The new sunset date is June 30, 2014.

AYP determinations: Late July is target date

The TENTATIVE timeline for release of 2010-11 adequate yearly progress, or AYP, determinations remains on target. Please review the dates below and be sure to alert appropriate staff.

Please note: Districts must make any changes to Infinite Campus, the student information system, by June 10, 2011. AYP calculations will be made, in part, based upon the data in the system at that time.

June 10 Deadline for districts to enter data into
Infinite Campus for school year 2010-11
July 22 Release of online Report Card to superintendents via “sandbox” site
July 26 Report Card website “live” for public to access
Media release regarding statewide results issued
Aug. 5 Public release of All Assessed Reports
Aug. 9 Deadline for districts to appeal an AYP determination
Sept. 7 Deadline for DOE to determine status of appeals

If anything changes with proposed dates, we will notify you via email.

If you have questions, please call our office at (605) 773-3134 and ask for Judy Merriman or Mary Stadick Smith.

Improving student achievement:
i3 grants support innovative approaches

School districts and non-profits across the country may apply for $150 million worth of Investing in Innovation, or i3, grants. Offered by the U.S. Department of Education, the grants support innovative approaches that significantly improve teacher effectiveness and student achievement, engagement and attainment.

Three types of grants are available under the i3 program: Scale-up grants, Validation grants and Development grants. Funding levels range from $3 million to $25 million.

Applications are due Aug. 2, and awards will be made no later than Dec. 31.

Go to http://www2.ed.gov/programs/innovation/index.html to learn more.

Check your district’s waiver status now

Back in March, the department asked districts to review the status of any current waivers from administrative rule that they may have, and to make necessary application. This is a reminder to complete that process if you have not already done so.

A school district may apply for a waiver from South Dakota Administrative Rule governing school accreditation, in order to implement an alternative plan that better addresses local learning goals, enhances educational opportunities, promotes equity or increases accountability.

While many waivers last for five years, some have a shorter life span. One of the most common waivers among districts is to offer high school credit for Algebra I at the 8th grade.

Go to http://www.doe.sd.gov/oatq/adminrulewaivers.asp for more information and application forms. To view a list of current waiver holders, go to http://www.doe.sd.gov/oatq/currentwaivers.asp.

After approval by the department, waivers take effect at the beginning of the next school fiscal year on July 1.

Questions can be directed to Carol Uecker, Department of Education, at (605) 773-4771 or carol.uecker@state.sd.us

Bullying resource targets students, parents and schools

According to South Dakota’s 2009 Youth Risk Behavior Survey, 52 percent of students in grades 9-12 reported that they had been bullied at least once. An online resource available from the federal government provides information for students, parents and educators regarding this important topic.

Stopbullying.gov explores many aspects of bullying from recognizing the warning signs to tips for prevention.

Bullying has the potential to be a civil rights violation, so school districts need to understand their legal obligations to address harassment. A special section (http://www.stopbullying.gov/topics/civil_violation/index.html) of the website is dedicated to this topic.

Upcoming Events

Conversation about Common Core
Conference call for school administrators

June 15, 2-3 p.m. (CST)
June 22, 2-3 p.m. (CST)

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.

LifeSkills Training
July 14-15
Youth and Family Services, Rapid City

Go to http://www.doe.sd.gov/pressroom/educationonline/2011/June/documents/LSTJuly11.pdf for details

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.

Raising the Standards: A Skills-Based Approach to Health Education
Aug. 15-16
Best Western Ramkota Hotel, Sioux Falls, SD

Go to http://doe.sd.gov/schoolhealth/documents/RisingTheStandardFlyer.pdf for details.

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.