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Letter from the Secretary
SD Department of Education Dec. 2015  
 
 
Letter from the Secretary
In some ways, the close of the 2015 legislative session felt like more of a cliffhanger than a conclusion, as it ended with the establishment of three education-related task forces. Those task forces have worked over the course of the last year to develop recommendations for the 2016 Legislature, which will convene in just a few weeks.

I’m grateful to the dedicated individuals who served on the Blue Ribbon Task Force, the Native American Student Achievement Advisory Council and the School District Boundary Task Force. Teachers, administrators, legislators and other stakeholders serving on these groups have devoted many hours to studying education funding, Native American student achievement and school district boundary changes. Conversations on these important topics are not always easy, and the work was challenging.

All of these issues affect the field in a variety of ways, and I know you’ll be listening and watching closely as the 2016 Legislature gets under way.

I encourage you to read the final reports issued by all three of these groups. While their meetings are over, the work is far from done. The next step is for legislators to consider the recommendations, and task force members will be important voices in the deliberations.

Thank you for all you do for South Dakota students. Have a blessed holiday season.
 
   
 
HOT TOPIC
 
 
legal image Congressional conference committee reaches agreement on ESEA framework
A House-Senate conference committee working on reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act has approved a framework that will be the foundation for future discussions and legislation. The framework represents a compromise between the House’s Student Success Act and the Senate’s Every Child Achieves Act.

• Press release (http://www.help.senate.gov/chair/newsroom/press/house-senate-conference-committee-approves-framework-to-improve-k-12-education-)
• Framework summary (http://edworkforce.house.gov/uploadedfiles/ joint_esea_conference_framework_short_summary.pdf)



 
 
 
 
Board of Education passes new administrative rules
The Board of Education passed several administrative rule changes at its Nov. 16 meeting. Below is a summary of each. Following the legislature’s rules review process, these rules should become effective in January 2016 (unless otherwise noted).

End of course exams: Changes to ARSD 24:43 eliminate the requirement that a student taking a high school course from a qualified teacher before 9th grade pass a state-approved assessment before credit can be awarded. This allows the local school district to determine whether the student has met the criteria for passage of the course and awarding of credit. The changes also remove the Department of Education from approval of end of course exams (although the department does plan to continue to offer EOC assessments in Algebra I, Algebra II, Geometry, Spanish, Physical Science and Civics/Government that districts may use).

Questions? Contact Christina Booth (christina.booth@state.sd.us) to set up test administration or Jan Martin (Jan.Martin@state.sd.us) for other questions. Please note that districts still need to apply for waivers if they plan on offering credit before grade 9. Contact Laura Scheibe (laura.scheibe@state.sd.us) with questions regarding waivers.

Summer credit: A proposed rule that would have required districts to accept credit for summer courses taken from an accredited school system was not adopted by the board.

Public school accountability: Changes to ARSD 24:55 update certain components of the state’s accountability system. The changes make the rules consistent with changes made to South Dakota’s ESEA Flexibility Waiver over the last two years. This document provides the simplest summary of the changes (http://doe.sd.gov/secretary/documents/SummarSPI.pdf). If you look specifically at the items in the “2015-16” column, they represent the primary changes approved by the board in November (e.g., incorporating additional years of state assessment data into the Achievement indicator, applying the Academic Growth indicator, etc.) This PowerPoint presentation provides more information regarding the new Academic Growth indicator (https://doe.sd.gov/secretary/documents/0615-SGP2.pdf).

Questions? Contact Laura Scheibe (laura.scheibe@state.sd.us).

CTE certification: Changes to the CTE certification process passed by the board provide more consistency in certification options across career clusters, while offering school districts more flexibility in how teachers are certified. This graphic is a summary of the changes (http://doe.sd.gov/board/packets/documents/092115/Item6doc3.pdf). Questions? Contact Erin Larsen (erin.larsen@state.sd.us). Highlights:

   • Changes to the alternative certification route help ensure new teachers
      have strong content knowledge and additional support for developing
      their skills as a teacher.

   • Teachers use industry experience, coursework or a state certification
      exam to demonstrate content knowledge. A CTE methods course
      and mentored internship will be required of new CTE teachers.

   • Rules will not go into effect until July 1, 2018; however, if teachers meet
      the requirements of the new rules prior to then, they can earn certification
      under the new rules.
 
 
 
 
 
CTE logo Board holds first public hearing on proposed CTE standards
In November, the South Dakota Board of Education held the first of four public hearings on proposed career and technical education standards in six career clusters. The remaining three hearings on these standards will be held in 2016 at board meetings around the state.

Read more at http://doe.sd.gov/pressroom/documents/2015/1116-BOEr1.pdf.
 
 
 
 
SD State Capitol Building Task forces make recommendations in time for 2016 Legislature
Three education-related task forces have worked over the course of the last year to develop recommendations, which will form the basis for policy discussions on several important topics during the 2016 Legislature.

Blue Ribbon Task Force on Teachers and Students
The Blue Ribbon Task Force has evaluated South Dakota’s education funding formula, with a particular focus on teacher pay. Its final report (http://blueribbon.sd.gov/Blue Ribbon Report - Final.pdf) features numerous recommendations, including a significant increase in teacher salaries.

Native American Student Achievement Advisory Council
The Native American Student Achievement Advisory Council was established to identify strategies for changing the current learning paradigm for South Dakota’s Native American students. This group’s final report (http://indianeducation.sd.gov/documents/NASAAC-FR.pdf) is available on the NASAAC webpage (http://indianeducation.sd.gov/NASAAC.aspx) and includes four primary recommendations.

School District Boundary Task Force
The School District Boundary Task Force was asked to examine existing school district boundaries as well as recommend possible changes to those boundaries and a process for addressing minor boundary changes in the future. This task force's final report (http://doe.sd.gov/secretary/documents/SDBFTrept.pdf) is available on the School District Boundary Task Force webpage (http://doe.sd.gov/secretary/SDBTF.aspx).
 
 
 
 
Smarter Balanced logo Job opportunity: Teachers wanted to score Smarter Balanced constructed response items
Measurement Incorporated is seeking teachers to work during the upcoming Smarter Balanced assessment scoring season. This project requires readers to score student responses to Reading, Research, Brief Writes, and/or Math items. Find more information in this letter from Measurement Incorporated (http://doe.sd.gov/pressroom/educationonline/ 2015/Dec/documents/SmarterBalanced.docx).
 
 
 
 
US Department of Education logo US Ed. issues letter on dyslexia, dyscalculia and dysgraphia
The U.S. Department of Education has issued a letter regarding the use of the terms dyslexia, dyscalculia and dysgraphia (http://doe.sd.gov/pressroom/educationonline/ 2015/Dec/documents/Dexletter.pdf). The purpose of this letter is to clarify there is nothing in the IDEA that would prohibit the use of these terms in an IDEA evaluation, eligibility determination or IEP documents.
 
 
 
 
Alliance for a Healthier Generation logo 8 SD schools earn Healthy Schools Program awards
Earlier this fall, eight schools across South Dakota were honored in Washington, D.C., for their efforts to promote healthy living. Congratulations to these schools for encouraging physical activity and healthy eating among students, staff and families!

Visit the Alliance for a Healthier Generation’s website (https://schools.healthiergeneration.org/) to join the Healthy Schools Program and access a wealth of resources to create a healthier school environment. Contact Kari Senger (kari.senger@healthiergeneration.org) with questions.

Below are highlights of each school’s strategies for eating healthier and moving more:





Beresford Elementary
At Beresford Elementary, some students are on the move even while sitting at their desks. The school integrated kinesthetic learning desks into its 3rd and 4th grade classrooms, so students can complete their assignments and keep their legs moving at the same time.

The school schedule also includes recess and an afterschool program filled with physical activity options. Staff can boost their physical activity by participating in a faculty fitness program before and after school.

To promote healthy eating, food service staff overhauled the lunch menu to meet federal nutrition guidelines and replaced unhealthy snacks in the school’s vending machines with healthier alternatives.



Black Hawk Elementary (Rapid City Area School District)
At Black Hawk Elementary, many teachers and students share a common goal: completing 100 miles of walking or jogging by the end of the school year. For every 25 miles completed by a participant, he or she receives a special t-shirt to wear with pride on Miler Mondays.

The morning announcements include a student-organized nutrition lesson plus a “Jammin’ Minute” of physical activity. Teachers are also encouraged to incorporate at least 10 minutes of movement into their daily lesson plans.

The school’s wellness efforts extend to the community as well. The school hosted a 3K walk for all Black Hawk families and planned physical activity events for staff.

“We have created a culture where health and wellness are valued in the educational process. It is no longer just the physical education teachers’ job to get the kids moving. The principal, classroom teachers and community now understand healthy students are better learners,” said physical education teacher Tari Phares.



Brandon Elementary (Brandon Valley School District)
Many children regularly ride their bikes to Brandon Elementary, and students get moving when teachers use “Jammin’ Minute” physical activity breaks. The school offers a variety of physical activity options during recess, including martial arts.

Staff can participate in a month-long physical activity challenge. They can also take advantage of stress management seminars and health screenings.

To promote healthy eating, the school has aligned all foods sold outside the school meals program with the USDA’s Smart Snacks in School standards. The school offers a healthy snack break during the school day as well.

Parents are encouraged to send non-food items to school for classroom parties and birthday celebrations, and students learn how to create nutritious meals based on the USDA MyPlate recommendations in health classes.



Buchanan Kindergarten Center (Huron School District)
Every day at Buchanan Kindergarten Center begins with a “Jammin’ Minute” to get students energized and focused before class begins. Many students also run or walk laps before class.

Staff members are getting involved in encouraging students to practice healthy eating habits throughout the day. The school nurse, for example, teaches a weekly health lesson, and district high school students organized a health fair for the children. As a result of these efforts, students are more aware of healthy eating options and have had the opportunity to try new fruits and vegetables.

Staff wellness has become a top priority at Buchanan as well. Staff members can take part in a physical activity challenge and are encouraged to wear pedometers to increase their daily steps.



Georgia Morse Middle School (Pierre School District)
In the Georgia Morse Middle School cafeteria, all food options align with federal standards for meals, and the school has added a vending machine stocked with nutritious USDA Smart Snack items. The school has also provided several classrooms new smoothie blenders so students can test out healthy recipes.

Physical activity is also a priority at Georgia Morse, where students and staff enjoy access to new fitness equipment. The school offers a wellness calendar full of physical activity ideas and inspiration for staff. Physical education is provided every other day to all grades. An active Healthy Alliance Committee has implemented many new activities in the past few years.

“We are continuing to change the climate of our school to a healthier and more positive place,” said principal Kyley Cumbow.



Jefferson Elementary (Huron School District)
Students at Jefferson Elementary in Huron are moving more all day long. The school starts the day with exercise led over the loudspeaker. A “Jammin’ Minute” is intended to get kids focused and ready to learn. Teachers keep kids moving during the day with brain breaks. To get students moving more, the school wellness team developed a walking challenge that students could participate in during recess and after school.

“I see the impact we’re having when a student comes back to tell me her family exercised together,” said school nurse Rita Baszler.

The school’s wellness team was also instrumental in getting the administration to add the following language to the school’s handbook: “Physical education minutes cannot be withheld as a punishment at school.”



Jefferson Elementary School (Pierre School District)
Before classes begin at Jefferson Elementary in Pierre, students enjoy extra time for physical activity and can grab a healthy breakfast.

After school, some staff members take walks together, and many female students participate in a popular Girls on the Run program. The school also created a Boost Up classroom equipped with multiple physical activity stations for students.

To encourage more physical activity among staff, many faculty meetings conclude with a friendly game of volleyball or jogging some laps outside.

Students enjoy healthy meals in the cafeteria, and all foods and beverages sold outside of the school meals program align with the USDA Smart Snacks in School standards. The school also implemented a Harvest of the Month program to introduce students to new fruits and vegetables.

“The Healthy Schools Program has shown us that school wellness should be talked about more and emphasized,” said physical education teacher Jim Keyes.



Knollwood Heights Elementary (Rapid City Area School District)
At Knollwood Heights Elementary, each Wednesday is Wellness Wednesday, with an opportunity for students and staff to experience new physical activities.

“I look forward to Wellness Wednesdays. It is a great time to have fun with our students while doing something physical,” said 1st grade teacher Mallory Spoelstra.

In addition to Wellness Wednesdays, the school encourages students to get moving with a popular running club and an additional 10 minutes of recess time. Some staff walk together after school. Staff can also participate in a fitness challenge and receive tips for healthy living via e-mail.

Students and staff alike enjoy fresh fruits and vegetables during snack time, and candy rewards have been removed from most classrooms. To help encourage students to practice healthy habits at home, the school hosted a family night, where students and parents completed three fitness stations that culminated in a free, nutritious meal.
 
 
 
 
All City Elementary    Baltic Elementary

SD’s 2015 National Blue Ribbon Schools honored in Washington, D.C.
In November, All City Elementary (Sioux Falls) and Baltic Elementary schools were honored in Washington, D.C., for being among 285 public and 50 private schools nationwide named Blue Ribbon schools this year by the U.S. Dept. of Education.
 
 
 
 
Upcoming Events

A complete listing of events is available at http://southdakota.gosignmeup.com.

Principal Effectiveness webinars
Dec. 10     March 24
Jan. 20     April 20
Feb. 17     May 18


The Department of Education is hosting a Principal Effectiveness webinar series throughout the 2015-16 school year. Principals and superintendents are invited to participate. Webinars will also be recorded and posted on the department’s website. Register at https://southdakota.gosignmeup.com/. Here is a calendar of session dates, descriptions and log-in information (http://www.doe.sd.gov/secretary/documents/15-PEWeb2.pdf).




Positive Behavior Strategies
Dec. 11, Chamberlain

This training will:
1. Help participants understand the functions of student behaviors
2. Give participants ideas of positive supports to utilize when working with students who are struggling with appropriate behaviors
3. Give participants a process to follow when looking at all student behavior

Register at http://southdakota.gosignmeup.com/. Search by course title. Contact Becky Cain (rebecca.cain@state.sd.us), South Dakota Department of Education, at (605) 280-3568 with questions.




Board of Education
Jan. 7, Pierre

The South Dakota Board of Education will meet in Pierre. The time and location of the meeting are yet to be determined. The second of four public hearings will be held on proposed career and technical education standards in several career clusters. An agenda will be posted on the Boards and Commissions portal (http://boardsandcommissions.sd.gov/Template.aspx?id=32) at least 24 hours in advance of the meeting.




ACCESS 2.0 Assessment Workshops
Jan. 19, Rapid City
Jan. 20, Oacoma
Jan. 21, Watertown
Jan. 22, Sioux Falls

This workshop will provide specific information on the administration of ACCESS 2.0 and the traditional paper versions of the assessment. Test coordinators and test administrators involved with ACCESS are the intended audience for the workshop. Register at http://southdakota.gosignmeup.com/. Search by course title. Contact Jan Martin (jan.martin@state.sd.us), South Dakota Department of Education, at (605) 773-3246 with questions.

 
   
 

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