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

Teacher standards and evaluation: Transforming the conversation

In July, the South Dakota Board of Education adopted Charlotte Danielson’s Framework for Teaching as our state standards for teaching. The board’s action came at the recommendation of a 25-member work group that studied possible options over the course of the last year. For me, it represented a milestone.

I have always been passionate about teachers and the craft of teaching. The research clearly demonstrates the impact that good teachers can have on their students. And, as educators, we all recognize good teaching when we see it.

That’s why the Danielson Framework is such a powerful tool. Organized into four domains and 22 components, the framework recognizes the depth and complexity of the teaching craft and serves as a guide for teachers to fully develop their potential as professionals and to impact student learning.

Just like content standards, the standards for teaching serve as the basis for evaluation. With these standards at the center of our conversations regarding evaluation, the process takes on significant meaning for teachers, as they are required to reflect on their own practice. It pushes teachers and administrators to delve deep into the practice of teaching in order to achieve continuous improvement.

The Danielson Framework and associated evaluation system recognizes the complexity of the craft and sets a high bar for performance -- fully understanding that teaching can be a “messy” profession.

While districts are not required to use the evaluation process outlined by Danielson, we do recommend it. The process is centered on the framework and is based on rich research and collection of evidence. It offers a practical and well-rounded approach to assessing where we are at on the continuum of teaching. But be advised: The system is only effective if teachers and their evaluators are properly trained.

I know that there have been some questions out on the field regarding this topic, so I encourage you to read the Q&A that we’ve developed (available at http://doe.sd.gov/secretary/documents/Danielson.pdf).

We take the standards back to the Legislature’s Rules Review Committee later this month, and I feel confident that we will be able to answer any lingering questions they may have.

I believe these standards – the Danielson Framework – will change the way we approach teacher evaluation in a dramatic and positive way. It steers the entire conversation to one of continuous engagement and improvement in our craft.

Tech Corner

Preparing for Ethernet connection

As many of you may know, the state is working on a project to upgrade all schools’ bandwidth connections to a Fast Ethernet connection. In this process, there will be new telecommunications equipment along with a fiber connection that will need to be installed at your school.

Normally this equipment would be placed in the DMARC room or the telecommunications room. In some cases, this could also be a boiler room, storage closet, etc. In most cases, it is where the telephone system is installed.

However, some schools have what is called an extended DMARC. An extended DMARC is present when the circuit is terminated in the DMARC room and then wiring is run in some manner to another room where the state router and switch are located.

As you prepare for the transition to Fast Ethernet, please make sure that your technical coordinator, superintendent and the local telecommunications officer talk about where to place this new fiber. The state would suggest that it be placed in the same room as the state router and switch. NOTE: Fiber could have been already placed a while ago.

If the new fiber is not placed in the same location as the state router and switch, your school MAY need to pay for wiring to extend the DMARC to the state router and switch. The wiring length specification of cat5 cable is only 300 feet. If the distance between the new fiber and the state router is over 300 feet you will have to have to use fiber instead of cat5 from the DMARC to the state router and switch.

In summary: Please do a site survey with the local telecommunications company, superintendent and technical coordinator, so that the fiber which will provide the 10Mb Fast Ethernet connection is placed in the room where the state router and switch are located if possible.

If you have any questions, please contact the BIT/DDN Support group.

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Implementing Danielson Framework:
You’ve got questions, we’ve got answers

The Board of Education approved Charlotte Danielson’s Framework for Teaching as South Dakota’s state standards for teaching in July. We’ve developed a Q&A specific to some of your questions about implementation, evaluation and timeline. (To access the Q&A go to: http://doe.sd.gov/secretary/documents/Danielson.pdf)

Danielson Framework defines good teaching
ESAs to offer technical assistance, training

What does good teaching look like? South Dakota is on its way to a common definition with the adoption of the Charlotte Danielson Framework for Teaching. The state Board of Education voted to adopt the Danielson Framework as the state’s standards for teaching back in July.

“Danielson’s Framework recognizes the depth and complexity of the teaching profession, and if used properly, can serve as a guide for teachers to fully develop their potential as professionals,” said Secretary of Education Melody Schopp. “My hope is that these new standards transform our approach toward teacher evaluation in this state – evolving it into a more meaningful conversation about the practice of teaching and how to achieve continuous improvement.”

The department is working with two Education Service Agencies – TIE and East Dakota Educational Cooperative – to provide training and professional development to districts this year, as they work toward incorporating the standards at the local level. A small pilot program will be run this year as well.

It’s important to note that while districts are required to evaluate teachers based on the South Dakota standards for teaching (Danielson’s Framework), they have the option of using whatever evaluation tool or method they choose. (To access the Q&A go to: http://doe.sd.gov/secretary/documents/Danielson.pdf)

The ESAs have outlined some general guidelines for implementation (http://doe.sd.gov/secretary/documents/GdlDstrts.pdf). Possible activities are broken up into two phases:

Phase 1: Growing Knowledge
Activities might include:
• Online book study for teachers
• Online book study for administrators
• Establish team to lead the process locally
• Team or all staff attend training: Introduction to Framework for Teaching

Phase 2: Growing Skill
Activities might include:
• Conduct crosswalk
• Take formal board action to adopt the standards locally
• Determine desired evaluation system at local level (based on standards/Danielson Framework)
• Attending training specific to Danielson’s evaluation model (if district chooses that route)
• Take necessary steps to incorporate any changes made to local evaluation system into negotiated contract

Go to http://www.doe.sd.gov/secretary/sdteacherstandards.asp to access the guidelines, to learn more about training opportunities and to access the pilot application.

For more information, please contact MaryLou McGirr at TIE, (605) 484-4050, or Melissa Goodwin at EDEC, (605) 367-7680.

Discount on Danielson Framework materials

South Dakota schools can receive discounted pricing on Charlotte Danielson books and DVDs through ASCD, now through Oct. 31.

The special promotion for South Dakota schools includes 25 percent off of Danielson books and 40 percent off the DVD set, when multiple copies of the same title are purchased. Eligible materials are listed below. In order to receive the discount, orders must go through ASCD representative Laurence Binder. Go to http://doe.sd.gov/pressroom/educationonline/2011/september/documents/BookOrder.pdf to access order form, pricing and contact information.

Per the recommendation of a 25-member work group, the South Dakota Board of Education adopted Danielson’s Framework for Teaching as the state’s standards for teaching. The Department of Education is working with two of the Education Service Agencies – TIE and East Dakota Education Cooperative – to provide training around the Danielson Framework. That training currently involves book studies, webinars, workshops and a small pilot program.

ASCD Books and DVD sets by Charlotte Danielson
• Enhancing Professional Practice: A Framework for Teaching (2nd Edition)
• The Handbook for Enhancing Professional Practice: Using the Framework for Teaching in Your School
• Implementing the Framework for Teaching in Enhancing Professional Practice: An ASCD Action Tool
• Teacher Evaluation to Enhance Professional Practice
• Enhancing Professional Practice DVD Series

Questions regarding orders should be directed to Laurence Binder, ASCD rep, at 281-541-0968 or lbinder@ascd.org.

Common Core Professional Development Series
Revisions designed to make PD more useful, practical

While full implementation of the Common Core standards in 2014-15 seems a long way off, making the transition will take time, energy and commitment.

“Our goal at the department is to provide schools with high quality professional development to assist them in this transition,” said Secretary of Education Melody Schopp.

Based on the results of a summer pilot program and feedback from the field, several changes have been made to the state’s Common Core Professional Development Series.

• The professional development has been shortened to four days, instead of five.

• The PD will shift to focus primarily on disaggregating standards, with a secondary focus on ensuring that instructional practices and assessment cover the depth and breadth of the standard.

• Funding is now available to pay for substitutes, so that teachers can attend the PD series. This funding is made possible by a grant from the Great Plains Education Foundation.

• The deadline to register for this year’s PD series has been extended to Oct. 14. Training will now begin in November.

Go to http://doe.sd.gov/octe/commoncoreStandards.asp to learn more about the Common Core Professional Development Series. Or contact Becky Nelson at the Department of Education, (605) 773-4681 or becky.nelson@state.sd.us.

Last year’s Teachers of the Year to be honored at banquet

District-level Teachers of the Year from across South Dakota will be honored at a banquet hosted by the Department of Education during the annual Systems Change Conference, Oct. 19-21, in Spearfish. The department will cover conference registration, lodging and meals during the conference for your district’s 2010-11 Teacher of the Year. The banquet will be held the evening of Oct. 20. This is a great opportunity to recognize and reward your district-level Teacher of the Year for always going the extra mile!

Please provide us with the name of your 2010-11 district-level Teacher of the Year, so we can invite him or her to the annual banquet. To to https://spreadsheets.google.com/spreadsheet/viewform?formkey=dGJzZ0E1c0lPOXI3VnNqZ3hfU0VTRlE6MQ to submit the information electronically.

Questions regarding the Teacher of the Year recognition banquet can be directed to Lanette Johnston at (605) 773-8415 or lanette.johnston@state.sd.us.

QZABs offer cost-effective financing of renovation and other projects

Qualified public school districts can take advantage of a unique financing instrument that allows them to carry out much-needed school renovations and repairs. The instrument is Qualified Zone Academy Bonds, or QZABs. South Dakota currently has about $4.35 million in QZAB authority.

QZABs are bonds the federal government subsidizes by providing tax credits in lieu of cash interest payments to bondholders. As a result, school districts are generally responsible for repayment of just principal. These bonds may be used at an eligible school for several purposes: rehabilitating or repairing school facilities; purchasing equipment; developing curricula; and training school personnel. They may not be used for new construction.

The primary eligibility requirement is that a public school has a reasonable expectation that at least 35 percent of the students attending the school will be eligible for free and reduced price lunches under the national school lunch program. The school also must comply with other criteria detailed in the QZAB application.

Schools may apply for a minimum of $250,000 in QZAB authority and a maximum of $500,000 during this allocation cycle.

An application is available at http://doe.sd.gov/ofm/qzab.asp. Click on “Application” in the right-hand column.

Questions regarding QZABs can be directed to Cody Stoeser at the Department of Education, (605) 773-3248 or cody.stoeser@state.sd.us.