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Letter from the Secretary
SD Department of Education Jan. 2017  
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Photo of Melody Schopp, SD Secretary of Education
Letter from the Secretary

The New Year has arrived and I am hopeful. Great things happened in education in South Dakota in 2016 that will continue into 2017 and beyond.

The sales tax increase approved by the 2016 Legislature appears to be showing great success, raising teacher salaries an estimated 11.9 percent thus far.

The sales tax increase was part of a broader education package that aimed to support teachers and schools in a variety of ways, based on the findings of the Blue Ribbon Task Force.

Mentoring was a key component of this package. Too often teachers leave the profession because of the overwhelming nature of their first years in the classroom. Mentors can provide vital support for navigating this challenging time. The statewide mentoring program is now underway, with 154 mentors and 179 new teachers participating.

Grant opportunities were funded through the legislative package as well. Across the state, 43 classroom innovation grants have been awarded, for a total of more than $2 million. A number of districts are using these grants for the implementation of customized learning models that are literally transforming what education looks like and how it works.

Several shared services grants have also been awarded. This funding is helping small school districts with hard-to-fill positions.

I’m also optimistic about the strides being made in Indian Country. The work of the Native American Student Achievement Advisory Council led to two pieces of education-related legislation that passed in 2016.

Senate Bill 81 established a scholarship program to help several paraprofessionals in qualifying South Dakota schools earn their teaching degrees. And the Department of Education recently awarded three grants established by Senate Bill 82 for the development of Native American achievement schools in the Todd County and Smee school districts. These schools will spend the next 2.5 years planning for implementation before welcoming students in fall 2019 into programs that will weave Native American history, culture and language throughout the educational experience.

Proposed certification rules posted for public comment

South Dakota’s certification process is being overhauled, and proposed rules are now available for public comment. Find more information on the state Board of Education’s webpage [http://doe.sd.gov/board/]. The board will hold the first of two public hearings on the proposed changes Jan. 19.

For more than two years, the Department of Education has been leading stakeholders through a review of the current certification system and has identified areas in which conflicting rules and outdated requirements have created inefficiencies and unnecessary barriers, both for candidates seeking to teach in the state and for schools wanting to hire educators.

“These proposed rules represent a huge change for teacher certification in the state,” said South Dakota Education Secretary Dr. Melody Schopp. “It’s tempting to just make tweaks to the rules, but the K-12 educators, administrators and postsecondary representatives who developed these proposals, did the hard work of diving deep and really starting over with the whole system. Now we need to gather feedback from the field on this important work, so that everyone affected understands the reasoning behind it.”

The proposed rules seek to ensure that applicants meet state requirements for the courses they teach or the leadership positions they hold, but eliminate any of the inefficiencies and barriers identified by the work groups.

Additional Resources:

  • Proposed rules [http://doe.sd.gov/board/]
  • Read a summary of proposed changes [http://doe.sd.gov/board/packets/documents/111516/item12doc1.pdf]
  • The Board of Education held a first reading of the proposed rules at its meeting Nov. 15, 2016. Hear that presentation [http://doe.sd.gov/board/documents/111516BOE.mp3] (audio starts at 1:59:10).
  • The Argus Leader recently ran an article on the proposed changes [http://www.argusleader.com/story/news/education/2016/12/16/state-proposes-fewer-tests-teachers/95511698/]

South Dakota Department of Public Safety Logo Apply for Homeland Security grant funding by Feb. 17

Applications for Homeland Security grant funding are being accepted until Feb. 17 at 5 p.m. CST. This application period is earlier than in previous years.

State and local, public and private nonprofit agencies, including public and non-public schools, are eligible to apply. Regional projects are encouraged. Regional projects provide equipment, training or exercises that benefit the majority of a region.

Funding will be awarded for one-time projects that have a connection to a Homeland Security mission area such as prevention or protection against terrorism threats. In particular, schools may be interested in access control projects such as keyless entry, video entry and Fire Marshal-compliant door locks. Surveillance camera systems are not allowable at this time; grants will focus on basic security measures, such as access control, and funding is limited.

Awards are competitive, and local awards will be based on recommendations of regional review committees. Find more information on the South Dakota Department of Public Safety website [http://dps.sd.gov/homeland_security/homeland_security_grants.aspx], including the following:

  • Administrative Manual - Terms and Conditions December 2016
  • EDGAR Visual Instructions for 2017 Homeland Security Applications
  • Link to the application system: EDGAR (Electronic Database for Grant Application & Reporting)
Funding for projects will become available on or about Sept. 1. Award agreements will be generated after funding becomes available.

Questions? Applicants can call the South Dakota Office of Homeland Security at (605) 773-3450 for technical assistance.

Photo of SD Legislative Session Legislative session opens Jan. 10
The 2017 Legislative Session begins Jan. 10, with Gov. Daugaard’s State of the State address at 1 p.m. CST. Access South Dakota Public Broadcasting’s live coverage of the Governor’s address via their new streaming service The South Dakota Network - sd.net. House and Senate Education Committee meetings will also be streamed live throughout session via sd.net and on the SDNet app available for iOS and Android.

View video at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MgpE1wfhTdc
View video at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MgpE1wfhTdc.
Why should high school students care about Smarter Balanced scores?

As schools prepare to administer this year’s statewide assessment, this is a reminder that all six of South Dakota’s public universities accept Smarter Balanced scores as evidence of students’ readiness for credit-bearing coursework in English and math (the same way ACT scores can be used).

High school students’ performance levels on the Smarter Balanced assessment are listed on the Infinite Campus Board of Regents transcript. Scores at Levels 3 and 4 qualify students for entry-level, credit-bearing courses and exempt them from remedial courses.

In coming months, through an Infinite Campus update, students’ scale scores will also be listed on the Board of Regents transcripts.

“Our institutions are using Smarter Balanced scores recorded on the transcript to assist with the math and English placement process for South Dakota graduates,” said Paul Turman, vice president for Academic Affairs with the South Dakota Board of Regents. “Especially in mathematics, with the new Math Index score process, there are instances where having access to the Smarter Balanced score can ensure that students are appropriately placed into credit-bearing coursework once they first enroll.”

A summary of the South Dakota Board of Regents placement guidelines for credit-bearing math and English courses is available on the Department of Education website [http://doe.sd.gov/octe/remedial.aspx].

Using Smarter Balanced scores is an option for students. South Dakota Board of Regents institutions accept the scores, but do not require them. Students can also qualify for credit-bearing coursework based on ACT scores and/or qualifying Accuplacer test scores.

Want to become an MTSS school? Apply by Feb. 3

Applications for districts to become part of the South Dakota Multi-tiered System of Supports initiative are now available on the Department of Education’s MTSS webpage [http://doe.sd.gov/oess/mtss.aspx]. Applications are due Feb. 3.

A Multi-tiered System of Supports (MTSS) is a continuous-improvement framework in which data-based problem solving and decision making are practiced across all levels of the educational system for supporting students.

To ensure efficient use of resources, schools begin with the identification of trends and patterns using school-wide data. Students who need interventions beyond what is provided universally for positive behavior or academic content areas are provided with targeted, supplemental interventions delivered at increasing levels of intensity.

Questions? Contact Becky Cain [Rebecca.cain@state.sd.us] with the South Dakota Department of Education.

Enhancing RtI to Close the Gap

The Dyslexia Stakeholders Group [http://doe.sd.gov/secretary/Dyslexia.aspx] has proposed a state plan to support struggling readers [http://doe.sd.gov/secretary/documents/DyslexiaPlan2.docx], including those with dyslexia. The following article was submitted by Fred Assam Elementary (Brandon Valley School District) Principal Susan Foster and several of the school’s teachers. In it, they summarize the school’s Walk to Read program and how it is helping students improve reading skills.

Students reading books in classroom at Fred Assam Elementary

This article is about an “Enhanced” Response to Intervention (RtI) process we use at Fred Assam Elementary School that allows for early identification of all students who need extra help with literacy, for any reason. We will describe how we provide structured, systematic intensive instruction for students so that we are able to address their specific needs.

In the Brandon Valley School District, we do not specifically identify kids with dyslexia as part of the RtI process. While we don’t screen for dyslexia, we talk about it, and we know that many of our students are dyslexic. Our staff would likely say it is helpful to know that a student is dyslexic, if that information is available. Many of our staff are on the lookout for the warning signs of dyslexia as they work with students.

Student reading and listening to story on tablet

RtI was working for us…so why change?
We changed our reading process during the same year we were identified as a pilot school for Teacher Effectiveness. Teachers were responsible for writing student learning objectives, so we tied these changes together.

We noticed our students showed good growth, but were not closing the gap with their peers. Fred Assam’s student population is about 24 percent economically disadvantaged. We also have significant numbers of students with disabilities and English learners.

An evolving process
This is our third year using what we call our Walk to Read process. We started two years ago with 1st grade students, added 2nd grade last year and 3rd grade this year. We continue to tweak this process to fit our school’s unique needs.

We have four sections each of 1st, 2nd and 3rd grades. At each grade level, each classroom teacher is assigned to one of four classrooms for Walk to Read. We categorize the classrooms as intensive, strategic, benchmark and above benchmark. All students in a grade level receive their reading instruction within one of these classrooms.

Students and teacher sitting around a table

How groups are determined
Group placement is determined by universal screening (DIBELS Next) and other data sources such as the Qualitative Reading Inventory, CORE Phonics screener, STAR Early Literacy and STAR reading assessments. At the end of each school year, teachers put together tentative groupings of students for the next year. Once new students have been added and fall screening is completed, teachers meet to reconfigure groups. Grade level and other teachers meet each quarter to discuss student progress. At that time, changes to groups are made with evidence to support student movement.

The intensive room teacher will typically start the year with 14-16 students. Screening indicates the students in this room have the greatest needs and would benefit most from direct, explicit instruction at their instructional level.

The classroom teacher provides 30 minutes of whole-group instruction. Then, for the next hour, “push-in” services occur. The classroom teacher is joined by the special education teacher, reading specialist and English learners teacher.

The students are divided into four small groups (three or four students per group). Groups rotate every 15 minutes to a different teacher in the room. Each teacher uses direct, explicit instruction through My Sidewalks On by Reading Street, SRA Reading Mastery Signature edition, SRA Reading Mastery Lesson Connections and Lindamood-Bell LiPS VOWEL Circle. Student progress is monitored weekly.

In the strategic room, the year typically begins with 16-18 students who receive whole-group instruction for 30 minutes from the classroom teacher. For the next hour, students are put into small groups and “push-in” services begin with the Reading Street curriculum and the S.P.I.R.E. program*. Staff in this classroom includes the teacher, Title I teacher and an educational assistant. Instruction is direct and explicit, and student progress is monitored weekly.

*From the EPS Literacy and Intervention website: S.P.I.R.E.® is a research-proven reading intervention program for your lowest performing students. It is designed to build reading success through an intensive, structured and spiraling curriculum that incorporates phonological awareness, phonics, spelling, fluency, vocabulary and comprehension in a systematic 10-step lesson plan.

The approximately 18-22 students in the benchmark room are “on target” with their grade-level skills. The teacher provides 30 minutes of whole-group instruction followed by an hour of small-group instruction using the Daily 5 model.

This teacher has an educational assistant, and the two of them meet with each group for skills review and activities. The goal in this classroom is to help students become more independent with skills and work habits.

teacher and students sitting on rug while reading books

Above benchmark
In the above benchmark room, the teacher provides 30 minutes of whole-group instruction followed by an hour of small-group instruction using the Daily 5 model (like the benchmark room). Above benchmark students are more independent readers and participate in literacy groups, reader’s theater and other reading activities to enhance their reading skills. This is usually the largest group, with 22-28 students in the room.

Before Walk to Read, our end-of-year results would show 12-19 students still in the intensive and strategic groups. Since implementing Walk to Read, our numbers have decreased dramatically to only single digits between the two groups. We know from our data that Walk to Read makes a difference. We have numerous success stories and parent testimonials, like this one, to support our evidence:

    From a Fred Assam Elementary parent:
    “At one point, our son was not where he needed to be in his reading. Because of you, your staff, and the early detection, you changed the future for our little boy. I remember when my husband and I thought we were going into a meeting for our son’s reading, turned out we were two people of a thirteen people meeting. You took his reading, his potential, and his future serious. More serious than we even realized until that day. Since he got the extra help, the encouragement, and stayed with it, he has turned into a reader.”

Our webinar and handouts on Enhancing RtI to Close the Gap is available on the International Dyslexia Association’s website [https://umw.dyslexiaida.org/?page_id=324].

We are very proud of what’s happening at Fred Assam Elementary, and we love to share. Please feel free to contact any of us:
  • Susan.Foster@k12.sd.us (principal)
  • Erin.Bisbee@k12.sd.us (1st grade teacher)
  • Dawn.Leenderts@k12.sd.us (special education teacher)
  • Jennifer.Vandyke@k12.sd.us (reading specialist)

Instructor next to student using CPR on training device Find CPR and AED training resources on DOE website

Per SDCL 13-3-91 [http://doe.sd.gov/octe/documents/CL13-3-91.pdf], the South Dakota Department of Education must annually make school districts aware of available resources for use in providing instruction in CPR and the use of AEDs (automated external defibrillators). These resources can be found on the department’s CPR Resources for Schools [http://doe.sd.gov/octe/cpr.aspx] webpage. Stakeholders from various state and nonprofit agencies and health/physical education teachers have compiled these resources and contacts for districts to access when implementing CPR training.

CPR training is not mandatory, but the Department of Education is required to share related resources annually and to report to the South Dakota Legislature which districts are implementing CPR into the school health curriculum. This information is gathered annually via an electronic survey. Read this year’s survey results [http://doe.sd.gov/octe/documents/16CPR-Surv.pdf] on the DOE website.

Native American achievement school grants awarded
The South Dakota Department of Education has awarded three Native American achievement school grants. The grant program was established by Senate Bill 82 and is a result of the Native American Student Achievement Advisory Council’s work.

Read more at http://doe.sd.gov/pressroom/documents/2016/1214-AMSG.pdf.
Second round of classroom innovation grant recipients announced
Twenty-five classroom innovation grants have been awarded to South Dakota school districts for a combined total of over $1.3 million funded by the 2016 Legislature. The purpose of the grant program is to provide funding for developing teacher training and classroom access to virtual education and customized learning tools.

Read more at http://doe.sd.gov/pressroom/documents/2016/1212-CIG.pdf.
21 Century Community Learning Centers Logo. Soaring Beyond Expectations. Time to submit Notice of Intent to Apply for 21st CCLC grant funding
The opportunity to apply for 21st Century Community Learning Centers, or 21st CCLC, grants will be available soon. The grant application will be online, and applicants must first submit a Notice of Intent to Apply to the South Dakota Department of Education by Jan. 13, 2017.

Read more at http://doe.sd.gov/pressroom/documents/2016/1216-21cclc.pdf.
Upcoming Events

Except where otherwise noted, details on the following events are available at GoSignMeUp [http://southdakota.gosignmeup.com/].

Preparing for ACCESS 2.0
Jan. 17, Watertown
Jan. 18, Sioux Falls
Jan. 19, Chamberlain
Jan. 20, Rapid City

Perkins Directors Meeting
Jan. 17, Rapid City
Jan. 20, Pierre
Jan. 26, Sioux Falls
Feb. 2, Aberdeen

Board of Education
Jan. 19, Pierre [http://doe.sd.gov/board/]

New & Recent Sped Director Webinar Series
Jan. 23
Feb. 22
March 28
April 25
**Note: Each session of the New & Recent Sped Director Webinar Series listed is unique; not a repeat of a previous session

Winter Assessment Workshops
Feb. 7, Watertown
Feb. 8, Sioux Falls
Feb. 9, Pierre
Feb. 10, Rapid City

South Dakota Comprehensive School Counseling Program Model Overview
Feb. 10, online

Administrative Support Series
Feb. 13, online
March 7, online
April 5, online
**Note: Each session of the Administrative Support Series listed is unique; not a repeat of a previous session

SD Invest Year 5
March 1, Mitchell
March 2, Sioux Falls

School Finance Accountability Board
March 16, Pierre [http://doe.sd.gov/accountabilityboard/]

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