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Letter from the Secretary
SD Department of Education Nov. 2015  
 
 
Letter from the Secretary



As I travel around South Dakota, I hear a distinct theme in conversations about education: the need to support teachers. I hear about it among pre-service teachers, veteran teachers, administrators, higher education officials, and other stakeholders. That’s good, because to properly support teachers, all of these groups must work together.

The Blue Ribbon Task Force is mostly focused on teacher pay, and this group’s final recommendations will be critical as we move into the legislative session. However, even in task force discussions, it has become clear that more support is needed not only in the monetary sense. At the task force’s August meeting (http://blueribbon.sd.gov/materials.aspx), Richard Ingersoll, a professor of education and sociology at the University of Pennsylvania, shared information from his study showing other factors impacting the teaching profession--things like too little prep time, heavy teaching loads and large class sizes.

In this month’s newsletter, you’ll find stories about work that seeks to support teachers in non-financial ways. Through the CEEDAR Center grant, the department is working with several institutes of higher education in South Dakota to better align teacher preparation with what new teachers will encounter in the field, particularly in regards to the needs of special education students. The hope is that eventually this work will expand to professional development for current teachers as well.

The department’s instructional reading coaching program began in 2014-15 and provides training to K-3 teachers in core foundational reading skills. Many teachers who participated last year are receiving additional training, and teachers new to participating districts are receiving the training their colleagues received in 2014-15. I hope you’ll read about the feedback on this program—the support networks it’s building among coaches and teachers are powerful.

Several weeks ago, I had the opportunity to attend the K-16 Summit in Chamberlain, which brought together administrators, higher education officials, new teachers and teachers who have recently supervised student teachers. Conversations and connections among these groups can do much to better prepare new teachers for the challenges of today’s classrooms.

Teacher burnout is real, but it is not inevitable, especially when we all work together.
 
 
 
 
Instructional Coaching v. 2.0: Now with more teachers and the “Six Ts”
The Department of Education’s instructional reading coaching program for K-3 teachers, which began in 2014-15 (doe.sd.gov/pressroom/educationonline/2014/nov/Page1.html), continues and has expanded to include teachers who are new to a number of districts that participated last year.








Smarter Balanced English language arts reading claim data for all assessed students. Note that district report card data is based on students who meet the requirements for Full Academic Year (FAY).

Kelly Neill is the Elkton School District’s K-12 principal. When asked how instructional coaching impacted her district last year, she said, “Growth occurred not only for our students, but our teachers as well. They began to look at things differently and explored new techniques and strategies in their classrooms to help students find success as readers. Many teachers thought they knew their students, but by digging into the data, they gained a whole new insight on students and their abilities.”

“Our reading scores showed improvement and teachers felt more confident in the classroom,” says Angie Thunker, principal at McLaughlin Elementary School. “Teachers crave support and feedback. Having a coach that comes in for these specific purposes lets teachers know what they do is important and gives them the support they want.”

Teachers who participated in the coaching program last year are receiving additional training this year, based on the "six Ts" discussed in the article by Richard Allington entitled “The Six Ts of Effective Elementary Literacy Instruction.” (http://www.readingrockets.org/article/six-ts-effective-elementary-literacy-instruction)

Coaching continues with new teachers

Sally Crowser with TIE is leading trainings for those teachers who are new to districts that started receiving coaching last year.

“I wish I would’ve had this material when I was teaching high school English, because we had struggling readers, with not a lot of strategies to fill in the gaps in the regular classroom,” Crowser says. “I recently met someone who described kindergarten and 1st grade as ‘preventative reading,’ like preventative health. If we don’t get students to benchmark reading levels early, then it becomes remedial reading and a struggle.”



This new group gathered for a training recently in Pierre. We spoke with several of them about how the program is helping them in the classroom:

Rachel Schaefer has prior experience teaching preschool and junior kindergarten. This is her first year teaching kindergarten in the Elkton School District. “There’s so much research on literacy,” she says. “I don’t think I ever fully understood the difference between phonics and phonemic awareness and the building blocks. Coming away from here, I get it, and I’m teaching differently because of it.”

Marissa Schmidt is a first-year teacher, teaching 1st grade in the McLaughlin School District. “I was never taught a lot of this stuff. Some of these topics are just hard to grasp and here it’s taught so clearly,” Schmidt says. “It’s great having these trainings but then also having a coach who’s following up with you and who’s in your classroom, understanding the way your classroom functions and learns.”

Michelle Martin, a 4th and 5th grade teacher in the Stanley County School District, has been teaching for 25 years and was energized by the ideas flowing around the room. “The diversity of this group is really impactful—not only teachers from different grade levels, but also those just entering the field as well as veteran teachers,” she says. “I’m learning from students coming straight out of college, because they’ve had new training that I haven’t yet.”

Martin believes one of the most powerful aspects of the coaching program is how it guides teachers in using data to drive instruction. Participants perform data digs in the fall and spring. “This is helping teachers see assessment not just as something the kids do and then it’s over,” she says. “We’re learning to use that data to guide our next steps. Then with the next assessment, we see where we’re at and what our next steps need to be.”
 
   
 
HOT TOPICS
Open for public comment: Proposed rule changes
The state Board of Education (http://doe.sd.gov/board/) will consider proposed changes to administrative rules related to: CTE endorsements, end-of-course exams, summer credits and the public school accountability system. The proposed rule changes are available at https://rules.sd.gov or at www.doe.sd.gov/board. Links to make public comment are available at both sites.


Blue Ribbon Task Force makes final recommendations
The Blue Ribbon Task Force held its final meeting Oct. 29 and made its final recommendations. Meeting materials and audio (http://blueribbon.sd.gov/materials.aspx) are available on the task force website. The task force will submit a report of its recommendations to the Governor by Dec. 1.


Statewide survey released
Teachers should receive a link late in the week of Nov. 2, to complete a statewide survey gathering data about instructional practices and implementation of the Teacher Effectiveness model. Each district will receive its own report with district-level results. Please encourage your teachers to participate. Principals and district administrators will receive a separate survey.


Final NASAAC meeting scheduled in November
The Native American Student Achievement Advisory Council met in October in Flandreau. The group made some progress in coming up with three specific suggestions to bring forward. A report is due to the Governor in December. The group’s final meeting is Nov. 17-18 in Pierre. Find more information on the council’s webpage (http://indianeducation.sd.gov/NASAAC.aspx).

 
 
 
 
Principal Effectiveness webinars scheduled throughout 2015-16
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 are held at 4 p.m. CT. They will also be recorded and posted on the department's website. Register at GoSignMeUp (https://southdakota.gosignmeup.com/). Here is a calendar of session dates, descriptions and log-in information (http://doe.sd.gov/pressroom/educationonline/2015/Nov/documents/PE-calend2.pdf).
 
 
 
 
 
American Education Week is Nov. 16-20
This special week is a celebration of public education. Thank you to South Dakota’s teachers, administrators, support staff, parents and school board members. All of you are crucial to the success of our state’s students!
 
 
 
 
CEEDAR Center grant helps build relationships between DOE and higher ed
With help from a CEEDAR Center grant, the South Dakota Department of Education is working with several universities in the state to improve educator preparation systems to advance the achievement of students with disabilities. CEEDAR stands for Collaboration for Effective Educator Development, Accountability and Reform.

SD universities currently involved
• Augustana University
• Northern State University
• South Dakota State University
• University of South Dakota

“The goal of the CEEDAR grant is to ensure that teachers going into general education are prepared to address the needs of all students, focusing in particular on students with disabilities,” says Linda Turner, director of South Dakota’s office of special education. “So we’re working with teacher prep programs to ensure pre-service teachers understand how to differentiate instruction for those students, building universal design principles into their lesson plans to meet the need of any student.”

In South Dakota, approximately 70 percent of students with disabilities are in the general classroom for 80 percent or more of their day, which is slightly above the national average.



At this point, the CEEDAR grant work is focused on reading instruction. “We’ve adopted the Features of Effective Instruction (http://doe.sd.gov/pressroom/educationonline/2015/Nov/documents/EffectIns.pdf) as the core competencies we want to build through undergraduate coursework,” Turner says. “For both teachers currently in the field and new teachers, these are areas in which we see a need for professional development.”

“NSU is pleased to partner with the state and other universities in South Dakota on the CEEDAR grant,” says Dr. Alan Neville, professor of education and department chair of Elementary, Secondary and Special Education. “We will critically look at both our undergraduate and graduate coursework and will possibly create or re-design classes to better prepare our future teachers at all grade levels. Additionally, we hope to develop a new teacher mentoring program that we believe is critical for teacher retention.”

Timeline

A facilitator with the CEEDAR project holds monthly calls with participating universities. Turner says the goal right now is that the universities have the core competencies built into their syllabi by spring 2016, so they can request any necessary approval from the South Dakota Board of Regents and start implementation in fall 2016.

In the future, the grant project will also include work on professional development opportunities for teachers already in the field.

“South Dakota’s CEEDAR work is aimed at developing teachers and school leaders who can successfully prepare students with a wide range of abilities to be successful learners,” says Dr. Andrew Stremmel, SDSU professor of education and department chair of Teaching, Learning and Leadership. “In accountability terms this means we want to help all learners achieve college- and career-ready standards, while embracing and fostering diversity and inclusivity. Our work is collaborative and recognizes the essential idea of partnership among the Department of Education, institutes of higher education, K-12 schools and communities in aligning educational initiatives and transforming teacher education.”
 
 
 
 
State director of special education elected to NASDSE Board
Linda Turner, director of the office of special education, has been elected to a three-year term on the NASDSE (National Association of State Directors of Special Education) Board. She was also elected as co-lead for the small state consortium. Congratulations, Linda!


 
 
 
 
Upcoming Events

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

SD-STARS training for STARS Account Managers
Nov. 4-Nov. 12, various locations statewide

The South Dakota Department of Education is offering this one-day training on the South Dakota Student Teacher Accountability and Reporting System (SD-STARS) to STARS Account Managers. The course will update participants on changes in the SD-STARS system and train them on understanding and using data for educational decisions. Participation is free. The class will run from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. local time and will allow time for lunch.

Register at http://southdakota.gosignmeup.com/. Search by course title. Contact Jameson Berreth at the South Dakota Department of Education, (605) 773-4463 or Jameson.Berreth@state.sd.us, with questions.




SD-STARS training for Data STARS
Nov. 5-Nov. 13, various locations statewide

The South Dakota Department of Education is offering this one-day training on the South Dakota Student Teacher Accountability and Reporting System (SD-STARS)to Data STARS. The course will update participants on changes in the SD-STARS system and train them on understanding and using data for educational decisions. Participation is free. The class will run from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. local time and will allow time for lunch.

Register at http://southdakota.gosignmeup.com/. Search by course title. Contact Jameson Berreth at the South Dakota Department of Education, (605) 773-4463 or Jameson.Berreth@state.sd.us, with questions.




8th Grade Algebra Gap Analysis Training
Nov. 9, Sioux Falls
Nov. 10, Aberdeen
Nov. 19, Pierre
Nov. 20, Rapid City

Teachers of 8th grade algebra students will be provided with the tools and analytical skills needed to effectively investigate curriculum and instructional practices as they align to the algebra content standards.

Day One: (November) Teachers will learn a process to analyze the content they teach in order to identify curriculum gaps and overlaps and to determine how their assessments support the standards and their curriculum.

Day Two: (March) Teachers will return to use tools and highly effective resources to fill the gaps and to develop assessments that align with the "EOC Blueprint."

Required Materials: A computer and Algebra I curriculum. Teachers will be using Excel, so an iPad may not be the best option.

Register at http://southdakota.gosignmeup.com/.




Board of Education
Nov. 16, Sioux Falls

The South Dakota Board of Education will meet at Southeast Technical Institute, Mickelson Center Room 101, 2320 N. Career Ave., in Sioux Falls at 9 a.m. CST. 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.




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

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 are held at 4 p.m. CT. They 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://doe.sd.gov/pressroom/educationonline/2015/Nov/documents/PE-calend2.pdf).




Facilitating Challenging and Complex Meetings
Nov. 18, Sioux Falls
Nov. 19, Rapid City

Meetings, meetings and more meetings. Parents and professionals navigating the complex world of special education are asked to participate in what seems to be an unlimited number of meetings. At times, these gatherings produce increased learning and understanding, helping participants to better address the special needs of children and families. At other times, participants leave frustrated as expectations for the time spent are not met. In many cases these meetings are emotionally charged as people come together to engage such topics as safety, fairness, trust, strained relationships and the complex needs of children.

Experience indicates that the work of groups is enhanced with the assistance of a facilitator. The role of the facilitator is to serve the group and support them in their ability to meet objectives. This seminar supports the development of facilitation skills that are applicable in a range of contexts.

Training Objectives

• Understand the role of the facilitator
• Know the essential elements of participative meetings
• Learn a structured process for preparing yourself and others to engage in challenging conversations
• Learn to manage the emotional, substantive and procedural dimensions of the work

For more information and to sign up, visit the event’s registration page (http://www.cvent.com/events/2015-facilitating-challenging-and-complex-meetings/event-summary-9fb716285788422ea9af8b6c37c7c2a8.aspx).




Sexual Violence Institute
Dec. 2-4, Sioux Falls

The Sexual Violence Institute is put on by the South Dakota Network Against Family Violence and Sexual Assault (http://www.sdnafvsa.com/index.php). The event will cover the issue of sexual violence across the lifespan addressing prevention and intervention.

Intended Audience: law enforcement, social workers, nurses, medical personnel, domestic violence advocates, sexual assault advocates, counselors, school personnel, prosecutors, parole officers, judicial system, students, public.

Registration deadline: Nov. 25

Find more information on the South Dakota Network Against Family Violence and Sexual Assault website (http://www.sdnafvsa.com/index.php).

 
   
 

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