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Letter from the Secretary

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SD Department of Education March 2015  
Letter from the Secretary
The legislative session is winding down, and as always, it has been busy. Emotions run high and debates get heated when it comes to education. That’s to be expected. Because whether we’re parents, educators, government officials or some combination thereof, we all want the best for kids. At least on that point, we can all agree.

You are likely aware of a bill that attempted to end South Dakota’s involvement with the Common Core standards. After failing in committee, there was an attempted “smokeout” of the bill. This is a process by which legislators attempt to bring up a bill for floor debate, despite its failure in committee. I want to thank each and every one of you who contacted your legislators to voice your support for the standards. You made a difference. The smokeout failed, and we heard from legislators that contacts from educators influenced their decision to vote against it.

The remaining days of session will focus on the appropriations process. Early next week, legislators will receive revenue estimates, which will allow them to make final decisions regarding the FY 16 budget.

I also know many of you have questions about the Governor’s recent announcement of the Blue Ribbon Task Force on Teachers and Students, which will study education funding over the next year and make recommendations to the 2016 Legislature. I expect this work will ramp up significantly once legislative session concludes, and we will keep you updated as we get more information.

Finally, as we approach the testing window for the state assessment, I want to thank school administrators for your diligence in preparing for things to run as smoothly as possible. As with any massive undertaking like this, we know there will be challenges along the way. Our staff is ready to help you address these challenges. Each district has been assigned a DOE contact from our assessment staff. These individuals, as well as our colleagues in BIT and our vendor, stand ready to assist when challenges arise.

Important reminders for testing coordinators
(view video at: http://youtu.be/oS2TpBcAkxQ)
Smarter Balanced: What you need to know as testing begins
With the Smarter Balanced testing window opening soon, here are some key things you can do to help ensure success in your district.

Get to know the portal
Get to know South Dakota’s Smarter Balanced portal at http://sd.portal.airast.org. This is your home for Smarter Balanced, including important messages and updates:

Portions of the portal are password-protected. If someone in your district is still in need of a username and password, contact Jan Martin, assessment coordinator for the South Dakota Department of Education, at Jan.martin@state.sd.us.

Work with your district technology coordinator
Districts need to load secure browsers on any computers and/or other devices students will be using to take the assessment. The browsers used for last year’s field test will not work. District technology coordinators can find information about the new browsers on the Smarter Balanced portal.

Remember practice and training tests
The link to practice and training tests is on the main page of the Smarter Balanced portal. Teachers and students should be utilizing these tests to get familiar with the testing interface.

Watch webinars and attend Friday open forums
The department’s office of assessment has recorded a series of webinars on the various elements of the Smarter Balanced portal. Find them on the portal’s homepage.

Most Fridays throughout the testing window, the Office of Assessment will also host open online forums on various testing topics. Attending forums is optional. Jan Martin will email weekly meeting information to test coordinators, who are encouraged to share it with anyone who might want to participate. All forums will be recorded and posted online.

Send parent letters
Sample parent letters can be found at http://doe.sd.gov/octe/SMARTERbalanced.aspx. Districts are not required to use the letters in their entirety, but it is recommended that districts inform parents about testing and when it will be occurring.

Get to know your district’s DOE contact
As in past years, each district will be assigned a contact person within the department’s office of assessment who will be available for support. Department staff will also conduct informal drop-in visits throughout the testing window to see how test administration is going.

For more information, contact Jan Martin, South Dakota Department of Education, at (605) 773-3246 or Jan.martin@state.sd.us.

View video at: http://youtu.be/FbBWZzNyofo
DOE seeking public comment on renewal of ESEA flexibility waiver

The South Dakota Department of Education is seeking public comment on the state’s application for renewal of its ESEA Flexibility Waiver from the U.S. Department of Education. Overall, the department is proposing few substantive changes in its renewal request.

The public comment period is March 9-20.

South Dakota’s waiver consists of three components:
1) College and career ready standards and high quality assessments
2) Accountability system
3) Teacher and principal effectiveness

The department is requesting two formal amendments. The first is to remove the requirement that Priority districts participate in the Academy of Pacesetting Districts. Because many Priority districts are small, APD has become largely duplicative of the work Priority schools are already doing. Removal of this requirement shifts the focus to the local level and frees districts to better support their Focus and Priority schools.

The second amendment would extend from one year to two the timeframe for Focus school designation, allowing for both a planning year and an implementation year.

The entire waiver request has been updated to reflect progress and adjustments made in the past year.

The waiver request also expands on amendments approved in the previous waiver, including several key indicators in the School Performance Index: Attendance, College and Career Readiness, and Student Growth.

Information regarding supports for Focus and Priority schools and other Title I schools has been updated and clarified. This includes expanded descriptions of the review process for Focus and Priority schools, the role of School Support Team members, and updated timelines and requirements, in addition to the formal amendments noted above.

View a summary of the proposed waiver at http://doe.sd.gov/pressroom/educationonline/2015/Mar/documents/SDESEAsum.pdf.

Read the waiver in its entirety at http://doe.sd.gov/pressroom/educationonline/2015/Mar/documents/WaiverApp.pdf.

Beginning March 9, submit public comment at doe.sd.gov/Accountability/PublicComment.aspx.

Legislative session winding down
Most of the activity in the remaining days of this year’s legislative session will center around the appropriations process. Go to: http://doe.sd.gov/pressroom/educationonline/2015/Mar/documents/LegislSum.pdf for a summary of recent bill action.

Registration open for summer dual credit courses
Encourage students to get ahead this summer! Registration is open for summer dual credit courses. Students who will be seniors in the 2015-16 school year are eligible to take summer courses.

Read more at: http://www.sdmylife.com/educators/advanced-education-opportunities/

Governor issues executive order establishing council to study Indian education
The Native American Student Achievement Advisory Council will study methods designed to improve the achievement levels and graduation rates of Native American students. The council will consist of stakeholders including tribal leaders and representatives from the Indian Education Advisory Council, the South Dakota Departments of Education and Tribal Relations, and various education groups.

Read more at: http://news.sd.gov/newsitem.aspx?id=17264.
Purple Up! for Military Kids
April will be the Month of the Military Child. Encourage everyone in your schools to wear purple on April 15. Purple symbolizes all branches of the military by combining Army green, Coast Guard blue, Air Force blue, Marine red and Navy blue. Go to http://library.sd.gov/LIB/CYS/2015PurpleUP.pdf for a poster and information on ordering special t-shirts from SDSU Extension’s 4-H Operation: Military Kids program. Orders must be placed by March 13.
SD educators discuss dual credit and college readiness courses in Expect More videos
Hear what your colleagues are saying about how dual credit and college readiness courses prepare students for postsecondary.
      College readiness courses
      View video at: http://youtu.be/OC-D2Jjcx3U

Dual Credit
View video at: http://youtu.be/Z9xZ_3129Pk
Recommend distinguished educators for DOE’s Emerging Classroom Leaders Pool
The Department of Education maintains a list of Emerging Classroom Leaders, which consists of distinguished teachers and principals from across South Dakota. These educators may be considered for membership on advisory boards and task forces, as well as candidates for special recognition programs.

Candidates should be relatively early in their teaching careers, with a minimum of five years of experience in education. Candidates must be building-level personnel. They are typically classroom teachers, as opposed to specialists, and are recognized by peers and supervisors as unique in their growth. Occasionally, a principal or specialist is considered. Previous recognition is not required.

To recommend someone for our Emerging Classroom Leaders Pool, complete a Talent Pool Recommendation Form (doe.sd.gov/oatq/distinguishededucators.aspx) and return it to Kathy Riedy, Department of Education, 800 Governors Drive, Pierre, SD 57501, no later than May 1.

In addition to filling out the form, we ask that you include a one-page narrative and a resume if possible. Please keep your recommendation confidential and do not share it with the individual.

For more information, contact Kathy Riedy, Department of Education, at (605) 773-8415 or Kathy.Riedy@state.sd.us.
Upcoming Events

Complete listing of events available at: http://southdakota.gosignmeup.com.

Board of Education meeting
March 16, Sioux Falls

The South Dakota Board of Education will hold its regularly scheduled meeting at 9 a.m. CDT at Southeast Technical Institute in room 101, the Mickelson Center, 2320 N. Career Ave., in Sioux Falls. Public hearings will be held related to content standards adoption in the areas of science, social studies, fine arts and K-12 educational technology. An agenda will be posted at doe.sd.gov/board at least 24 hours in advance of the meeting.

2015 Summer Education Conference: Multi-Tiered System of Supports
June 3-4, Pierre

This conference is open to all schools, with a reduced registration rate available for educators from MTSS schools. Graduate credit is available.

The first day of the conference will focus on teaching students to think critically about text. School-wide Positive Behavior Supports will be the main topic of day two. Keynote speakers will be Jill Jackson and Dr. George Sugai.

For more information and to register, go to: doe.sd.gov/oess/documents/15ConfMTS.pdf.

Questions? Contact Becky Cain, South Dakota Department of Education, at rebecca.cain@state.sd.us or (605) 280-3568.

Civil Rights Regulations: Target – Education Settings
June 9, Rapid City
June 10, Aberdeen
June 11, Sioux Falls

The South Dakota Department of Education is working with the U.S. Department of Education to provide professional development on civil rights federal regulations for the educational setting. These will be full-day sessions featuring specialists from the regional U.S. Department of Education Office for Civil Rights in Kansas City, Mo. The OCR ensures equal access to education and promotes educational excellence throughout the nation through enforcement of civil rights laws.

Maria North and Karl Menninger will lead the trainings. They are Supervisory Attorneys for the OCR. Each oversees a team of investigators and attorneys who provide technical assistance and investigate civil rights issues in education.

K-12 staff and postsecondary personnel are encouraged to attend. Attendees will receive six hours of CEUs for full-day attendance. Please advise staff who serve in any of the following capacities about these trainings:

• School administrator
• School counselor
• Career and technical education teacher/director
• School district attorney
• Title IX coordinator
• Section 504 coordinator

Federal law requires that each school district have at least one person designated and trained as the District Title IX Coordinator and a person designated as the Section 504 Coordinator. (§ 34 C.F.R. Sec. 106.8 and Sec. 104.7)

Contact Carol Uecker at the South Dakota Department of Education, (605) 773-4771 or Carol.Uecker@state.sd.us, with any questions.

Go to: http://southdakota.gosignmeup.com/ to register. Search by course title.

Save the Date: 2015 Indian Education Summit
Nov. 1-3, Pierre

Details at: http://indianeducation.sd.gov/summit.aspx

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