Sept. 18, 2012
Three South Dakota elementaries earn Blue Ribbon status
Congratulations to Groton Area Elementary, Parker Elementary and Wall Elementary! Those three schools earned Blue Ribbon status under a U.S. Department of Education program. More than 250 schools across the country were recognized as 2012 National Blue Ribbon Schools based on their overall academic excellence or for making progress in improving student academic achievement levels.
In its 30-year history, the National Blue Ribbon Schools Program has bestowed this award on nearly 7,000 of America’s schools.
The National Blue Ribbon Schools award honors public and private elementary, middle, and high schools where students perform at very high levels or where significant improvements are being made in students’ levels of achievement.
A total of 417 schools nationwide may be nominated, with allocations determined by the numbers of K-12 students and schools in each jurisdiction. The Secretary of Education invites nominated schools to submit an application for possible recognition as a National Blue Ribbon School.
USDA resource helps schools, parents transition to new meal pattern
The 2012-13 school year marks the beginning of school meal changes under the Healthy Hunger Free Kids Act (http://www.doe.sd.gov/pressroom/educationonline/2012/Feb/documents/USDAchang.pdf). Changes will be phased in, beginning this year, with full implementation by 2022. However, most of the changes will occur by 2014-15. Among other things, schools must now offer fruit daily at lunchtime, and this year half of all grain-based foods served must be whole grain-rich.
With any new federal regulations, comes the need for support and resources on how to implement changes. In response, the United States Department of Agriculture has come out with the “The School Day Just Got Healthier Toolkit.”
This collection of resources is separated by audience. School administrators, school staff, parents, and students all play unique roles within the changes to the school food environment. The toolkit is separated to help direct individuals to the most relevant and valuable tools and resources created for their specific role.
The toolkit includes many different tools including brochures, fact sheets, FAQs, fliers, school lessons, templates and much more. The ultimate goal of the USDA’s “The School Day just got Healthier” is to help prepare everyone for the changes to school meals this school year. To access the tool kit, to go:http://www.fns.usda.gov/cnd/healthierschoolday/
Assessment Portal receives upgrades, webinars ongoing
There are several new features in the South Dakota Assessment Portal, which replaced Achievement Series nearly a year ago. Webinars from earlier this fall have been posted online.
SDAP now contains pre-made forms for all teachers to access. Or teachers can find help guides online for step-by-step instructions on how to create a test from scratch. Teachers can choose to create tests using either the South Dakota State Standards or the Common Core Standards. All math and English language arts questions for grades 3-8 and 11 in SDAP have been aligned to the Common Core Standards.
Developed last year, the South Dakota Assessment Portal is an online resource to help educators create, deliver, and track formative and summative assessments for their students. It is available at no cost to school districts across the state.
For more information, go to: http://doe.sd.gov/oats/SDAP.aspx.
LATI named Aspen finalist for second consecutive year
Lake Area Technical Institute in Watertown is one of four two-year colleges nationwide to be named as a Top Ten Finalist for the Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence two years in a row. Selected from an original pool of more than 1,000 community colleges, the prize recognizes the most outstanding institutions for achievements in student learning outcomes, degree and college completion, labor market success in students securing jobs after college, and minority and low-income student success.
Located in Watertown, LATI now enters the last stage of the competition for the $1 million prize fund that will be awarded in March in Washington, D.C., to the winner and up to four finalists-with-distinction. Lake Area Tech was a recipient of one of the four finalists- with-distinction awards in last year’s competition.
At nearly 76 percent, LATI has one of the highest graduation and transfer rates of any community college in the U.S. Its rigid program structure and strong focus on student advising enables a clear progression through courses. With exemplary workforce training programs in 27 different areas from aviation mechanics to welding, 98 percent of LATI graduates secure jobs or pursue further education within one year of graduation.
For more information, to go: http://www.lakeareatech.edu/.
Longitudinal Data System pilot begins
The South Dakota Student Teacher Accountability Reporting System (SD-STARS) is picking up steam! Last week, the Department of Education held a webinar with 30 staff from ESAs and 10 pilot school districts. Referred to as the Data STARS, this group will also travel to Pierre to attend an SD-STARS pilot training next month, where they will learn more about SD-STARS, explore the portal and reports, and take back what they learned to their districts.
The 10 pilot districts are:
• Andes Central
• Belle Fourche
• Bennett County
• Todd County
• Shannon County
• White River
The Data STARS are essential for the success of SD-STARS. They will be the first staff to use the system, and they will provide essential feedback before the statewide rollout in March 2013. As SD-STARS develops and expands, it will rely on these Data STARS to be the key point of contact with LEAs.
For more information, to to: http://www.doe.sd.gov/ofm/LDS.aspx.
State Teacher of the Year award to be presented next month
In less than a month’s time, South Dakota will have a new Teacher of the Year. The state Teacher of the Year will be announced during a special recognition banquet on Thursday evening, Oct. 11, as part of the annual Systems Change Conference, which is being held in Chamberlain.
This year’s winner will be selected from five regional finalists and will receive:
• A SMARTER Kids Foundation Technology Package valued at more than $11,000
• A $1,500 cash award from the South Dakota Community Foundation
• A $1,500 cash award from Citibank
• A $1,000 honorarium from the South Dakota Board of Regents
• A $200 Discover Gift Card from the South Dakota Retailers’ Association
• A South Dakota Education Association Apple Award
To meet this year’s Teacher of the Year candidates, go to www.doe.sd.gov and click on the department’s YouTube button.
Aug. 28 – Nov. 29, Various locations statewide
The IEP workshop will take you through all the essentials needed to provide students with a program that results in educational benefit. Workshops run from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. in their respective time zones and six contact hours will be offered. Presenters will cover all areas of special education, from referral to placement to IEP development. This interactive workshop will help you analyze data and write appropriate IEPs for students with varying disabilities. Registration is limited to 50 participants. For registration and a complete list of dates and locations, go to: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/viewform?formkey=dDRVcTFFNVVfcktJc284REhaTzlfaXc6MA
9th Annual Indian Education Summit
September 23-25, Chamberlain
This year’s Indian Education Summit will be held at the Cedar Shore Resort, located right on the Missouri River near Chamberlain and Oacoma. This event is quickly becoming a staple to bring partners from across South Dakota together to learn and to share ideas and insights to address the educational needs of American Indian students. Many sessions will be geared for K-12; many others will emphasize preschool and higher education strands. Watch www.doe.sd.gov for more information.
13th Annual Systems Change Conference
Oct. 10-12, Chamberlain
This year’s Systems Change Conference will be held at the Cedar Shore Resort, located on the Missouri River near Chamberlain and Oacoma. Long regarded as one of the region’s premier professional development events for educators, this event also features the announcement of the South Dakota Teacher of the Year, during a special recognition banquet. Graduate credit and DOE contact hours are available. For more information, or to register, watch www.systemschange.midwestmaple.org.
5th Annual Parent Conference
Oct. 27, Rapid City
This year’s Learning Starts at Home Conference for Parents will take place in Rapid City. The conference is free to attend but preregistration is requested. Cosponsored by the South Dakota Department of Education and the Parent Information Resource Network, the event provides parents and educators with resources to help reach their children and foster student learning. For more information, go to: http://www.doe.sd.gov/onlinecalendar/102712.aspx
Stephens lends insight to advisory council
Joann Curoe Stephens has been teaching her second generation of Belle Fourche students for a few years now, but says she’s still having fun and enjoys being in the classroom. Currently, she teaches 7th graders English language arts.
“I love the changes and hope that comes with teaching middle school,” Stephens said. “Every day comes with new learning and new challenges.”
Stephens claims that her family always knew she would be a teacher, because playing school was her game of choice with siblings and cousins. She always volunteered to be the teacher. “I like the challenge of making a lesson or topic ‘click’ for students.” Today, she still finds recompense in watching her students gain the confidence and trust needed to take risks that result in learning.
Last year in an attempt to add more informational text, Stephens had her students use VoiceThread.com with Around the World in 80 Days, by Jules Verne. “Imagine an interactive PowerPoint presentation with added voice, web links, graphics and text where students wrote the side bars to correlate facts with the slide summaries of the fiction,” Stephens said.
A few years back, Stephens obtained her National Board Certification and described it as the best professional development she had ever experienced. Over the summer, the veteran educator lent her insight to the Local Teacher Reward Plan Advisory Council.
“Our state struggles with finding ways to finance education. There are no easy answers but our students learn from wonderful teachers and I wanted to have a voice in creating possible incentive plans that can recognize our teachers across all subjects and any amount of experience,” Stephens said. “It is a fantastic group of leaders representing school board members, administrators, and teachers. No matter the size of the school or the location, we all know we need to do more to keep quality teachers in South Dakota.”
But even after a busy summer, she was excited to get back in the classroom. “Everyone gets a new beginning to make this the best year ever – even me,” Stephens said.