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

I spent quite a bit of time this past month visiting school leaders. John Pedersen and I hit the road to attend regional superintendent meetings, and the Superintendents Advisory Council met in Pierre. I also met with a principal group and attended part of the Aspiring School Leaders Conference.

Those face to face meetings are critical for getting a feel for your most pressing issues and concerns. Obviously, funding is one of them. But I also heard you voice concerns about other important issues, whether it was assessment or curriculum, reauthorization or federal regulations. Please be assured that we at the department take your feedback seriously; it is always a factor in our discussions and decisions. I also see my role as trying to facilitate opportunities for discussion between schools and the Governor’s Office, and I will continue to advocate for open and honest dialogue.

Perhaps the visit that struck me the most came this past week, when I was able to tour the Juvenile Service Center in Rapid City where they serve at-risk kids and kids who are already in trouble with the law. The dedication of those educators and the situations of those students reminded me of why so many of us became educators in the first place: We care about kids, and we care about doing the right thing.

Being a school leader is tough work, but it is also deeply rewarding work. Kudos to South Dakota educators for all you do for your students, your schools and your communities.

Hot Topics:

Apply now for EPSCoR funds

Proposals for South Dakota EPSCoR funds are now being accepted. Proposals should aim to increase career opportunities and achievement of secondary school students by enhancing, expanding and developing new programs and opportunities in specific career clusters.

This can be accomplished through: development of rigorous new programs; expanding or increasing rigor and relevance in current programs; enhancing career guidance; implementing capstone experiences; providing virtual courses.

The level of priority for funding will be:
1) Science, Technology, Engineering and Math cluster
2) Information Technology cluster
3) Health Science cluster
4) Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources cluster

Funds will be awarded on a competitive basis. Grant project period is Aug. 1, 2011-June 29, 2012. Applications are due to the Department of Education’s Office of Curriculum, Career and Technical Education no later than June 3, 2011.

EPSCoR is the Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research, which was established by the National Science Foundation.

Click here to access the Request for Proposals. Questions can be directed to Mark Wilson or Ray Tracy at the state Department of Education.


Ethernet is speedy … and spreading

You may have heard about the DDN K-12 Broadband Upgrade project. It’s a joint effort of the South Dakota Department of Education and Bureau of Information and Telecommunications. The scope of the project is to increase all schools’ present Internet bandwidth from their current speeds to 10 Mbps. (To non-techies, that just means it will be fast!) Today’s learning environment increasingly relies on emerging web-based applications and content, which results in a growing need for bandwidth. Many districts in South Dakota currently use “T1 lines” for their connection to the DDN and Internet. The upgrades will convert those districts to 10 Mbps Ethernet connections as those services become available in those areas. Naturally, this leads to the question: “When will my district be upgraded?” There are several contingencies that determine when Ethernet services will become available to a particular area or more specifically, a particular school district. Construction plans for digging in the lines, weather, cost and manpower at the local-provider level are all factors that affect the timeline of when these services can be available in a particular area. Below is an illustration representing the present state of Ethernet service availability in our K-12 school districts.

With the above illustration, you can see that the scope of this project covers a lot of ground. Thirty-two districts have been completed, 25 districts are in the conversion process and 95 will be done in the future. Currently in the state, there are several parties like DOE, BIT, Broadband.sd.gov, and more than 30 telecommunications providers working together with one important objective: to make this entire map blue!


Long-term sub report due May 15

State law requires the Department of Education to collect long-term substitute data from all accredited schools annually. The deadline to complete your district’s 2010-11 Long Term Substitute submission is May 15, 2011. The submission can be accomplished by using the Personnel Record Form, or PRF.

A long-term substitute is an individual employed as a substitute teacher for 10 or more consecutive school days for the same teacher. You should not report substitutes for administrators, school service specialists or other types of school personnel.

To complete and submit your district report, click here (https://apps.sd.gov/applications/DP42LaunchPad/Logon.aspx). You will need your PRF log-in and password.

If you do not know your district log-in and password, please speak with your local PRF contact or contact Jennifer Rattling Leaf or Carla Leingang at the department.

Click here (http://www.doe.sd.gov/pressroom/educationonline/2011/may/documents/LongTermSub.doc) for detailed instructions on how to submit the long-term substitute data.

For more information, contact Carla Leingang at (605) 773-4638.

Answers to your questions about Common Core pd

Like states across the nation, South Dakota is challenged with implementing the Common Core standards in English language arts and math by school year 2014-15. Below are answers to some of the questions we’ve been receiving regarding the Common Core roll-out.

Q: What is the Common Core Professional Development Series?
A: It is a professional development series aimed at assisting schools, and in particular teachers, in making the required transition to the Common Core standards by school year 2014-15. The series is hosted by the South Dakota Department of Education. The 2011-12 school year is the first of the three-year series.

Q: Why is this training so important?
A: The Common Core standards will form the basis of future instruction and assessment in English language arts and math across South Dakota and the 41 other participating states. The Common Core provides high standards that are consistent across states, and in some areas, South Dakota will need to ramp up. As a state, we want to be sure that our education professionals have top-notch training, so that they can better prepare South Dakota students for the rigor of these new standards.

In addition, the training will help educators discern whether the curriculum they are utilizing or considering using is in alignment with the Common Core standards.

Q: Will participants gain in-depth knowledge of all the standards?
A: The Common Core Professional Development Series will focus on a process for gaining in-depth knowledge and understanding of standards. By participating in the workshops, educators will gain an in-depth knowledge of selected standards and a process, tools and resources to take back to the district.

Q: I am concerned about the number of days teachers will be out of the classroom. Why was the training set up this way?
A: In order to properly prepare teachers for full implementation and assessment in 2014-15, we need to give them ample opportunity to dissect the standards. This is a complex process that includes at least three distinct steps:

• Identify the unique elements of information and skill in each standard
• Design instructional strategies and learning experiences to achieve the correct cognitive complexity of the standard
• Ensure that assessments are evaluating students’ progress at the appropriate level of rigor

The Common Core Professional Development Series has been designed to cover the dissecting of a standard in full circle, in order for teachers to have a greater impact on student learning.

To date, 45 public school districts or nonpublic schools have registered to participate in the summer pilot. Sixty-one have registered or saved seats for the first year of training, which starts in school year 2011-12.

Q: My district cannot afford to participate in the Common Core Professional Development Series that the department has planned for 2011-12. What are my options?
A: 1) Districts could use a train-the-trainer model, in which a small group of educators participate in the face-to-face training, and then go back and train others in their districts. Once an educator learns the process described above, they can apply this process to any standard.

2) The Common Core Professional Development Series will span three years: 2011-12, 2012-13 and 2013-14, with full implementation in 2014-15. While each year of training will focus on different standards, the process teachers learn through this series will be the same and can be applied to any standard.

3) The department will be creating a virtual professional development option. This option would be available to any teacher who is not able to participate in the face-to-face training. The online option will be available next spring, after the regular 2011-12 school year training has concluded.

Q: Who pays for my subs if I have teachers participating in the 2011-12 school year training?
A: At the present time, districts are responsible for covering the cost of subs.

Q: I have questions about how to make this work. Who can I call?
A: The department stands ready to assist you in coming up with reasonable solutions to implementing the Common Core standards. Please contact Becky Nelson in our Office of Curriculum, Career and Technical Education at (605) 773-4681.

AYP determinations: Late July is target date

A TENTATIVE timeline for release of 2010-11 adequate yearly progress, or AYP, determinations has been set. Please review the dates below and notify critical staff. IMPORTANT TO NOTE: Districts must make any changes to Infinite Campus, the student information system, by June 10, 2011.

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

Thanks for your cooperation. 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.

Changes to bus driver training on horizon

HB 1208, which was passed during the 2011 legislative session, mandates training for school bus drivers once every five years, rather than the annual training currently required. It also effectively removes the Department of Education from the training process, although districts will still need to report to us that the appropriate training has been completed.

The following are clarifications regarding this new process: • Beginning with school year 2011-12, the district will record the date of a driver’s training in the Personnel Record Form (or PRF). Lists of drivers’ names will not be sent in to the department as was previously the practice. A trainer will simply notify the district (employer) that an individual has completed the training, and the district can enter the training date into the PRF at the appropriate time.

• Any training that was completed for school year 2010-11 (timeframe: Summer 2010 through the end of Spring Semester 2011) can serve as a driver’s baseline training for the first five-year cycle. Example: If Joe Smith participated in training on July 22, 2010, his deadline to complete another round of training is July 22, 2015.

• The five-year training cycle is mandated by law; however, a district may have a policy that requires training more often.

• The department has had some questions as to what constitutes “appropriate training” as outlined in the new law. The text of HB 1208 reads: “The training shall include classroom instruction in first aid, bus safety, and the management of passengers, and also behind-the-wheel training to enable the safe and efficient operation of the bus.” We take that to mean training must include all of these elements; however, we recommend that you ask your legal counsel for interpretation.

HB 1208 takes effect July 1, 2011. Questions should be directed to Carol Uecker at the Department of Education, (605) 773-4771.

Nominate Driver of the Year, recognize long-time drivers

The South Dakota School Transportation Association is seeking nominations for Bus Driver of the Year. Nominees must be members of SDSTA. Nomination forms are due by May 31 to Tim Steichen. The winner will be announced at the association’s annual meeting in July. Click here (http://www.doe.sd.gov/pressroom/educationonline/2011/may/documents/BusDriveroftheYearApplication.doc) for a nomination form.

SDSTA also will recognize drivers with 25 years or more of service with a plaque sent to your district. Those recognized must be members of SDSTA. Deadline is May 31. Click here (http://stage.doe.sd.gov/pressroom/educationonline/2011/may/documents/SDSTA25YEARSAP.doc) to access form.

SDSTA also will print certificates of recognition for any driver – regardless of membership status – who is retiring. Click here (http://stage.doe.sd.gov/pressroom/educationonline/2011/may/documents/SDTARetireeRecognition.doc) to access form. Allow two weeks to process certificate.

For more information about any of these programs, please contact Tim Steichen, SDSTA president at (605) 882-6335 or tim.steichen@k12.sd.us.

Interested in a capstone for your students?

The Capstone Experience is one of the menu options for South Dakota’s high school graduation requirements. The department will be offering sessions next fall designed to help schools implement a capstone such as a Senior Experience, Youth Internship or Entrepreneurship program. If you are interested in attending, please help us determine the best dates and locations for training. Click here (http://www.doe.sd.gov/CapstoneSurvey.html) to indicate your preference.

Upcoming Events

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.

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.