March 20, 2013


Growth model work group gets going

The South Dakota Department of Education has called together teachers, administrators and other experts to help study growth models for use in the state’s new accountability system.

Last month, the group had its first meeting, and representatives from REL Central gave an overview of seven selected growth models. The seven models being considered for implementation as part of South Dakota’s new accountability system are all research-based and have been thoroughly tested in other states. South Dakota’s new accountability system includes academic growth as one of the five indicators that make up the School Performance Index at the elementary and middle school levels beginning in the 2014-15 school year.

The seven models the group is considering are:
• The Gain Score growth model describes growth with simple differences of average gains over time.
• The Residual Gain model describes growth as the difference between current status and expected status given past scores.
• The Trajectory model extends gains or average gains in a predictable, usually linear fashion into the future.
• The Categorical model defines growth by transitions among status categories (i.e. Basic, Proficient, Advanced) over time.
• The Projection model uses past scores to predict future scores through regression equations.
• The Student Growth Percentiles model employs a percentile rank of current status in a reference group of students with similar past scores.
• The Multivariate or Value Added model uses entire student score histories, including other subjects and teachers, to direct higher than expected student scores associated with particular teachers.

Several of South Dakota’s neighbors are already using one of these growth models. Minnesota uses the Residual Gain model. Colorado is using the Student Growth Percentiles model, and Iowa uses the Categorical model, one of the most popular models being examined by the group.

The group will weigh the pros and cons of each model and whittle down the options at future meetings, according to Abby Javurek-Humig, the department’s director of accountability and assessment. The model could then be adapted for use on a school level, so it fits within the accountability system.

The growth model selected by this group will be different from how growth is approached for teacher evaluations.

Go to: for more information.

Teachers and Technology grant deadline approaching

The CenturyLink Teachers and Technology grant program will award a total of $15,000 to South Dakota teachers who put today's technology to use for their students.

Ten teachers will receive an award. The award is given through a competitive application process to pre-K through 12th-grade teachers with ideas to use technology in the classroom to engage students, enhance student performance and prepare them for life in a technologically advanced world.

The grant application can be found online at and must be submitted to the Department of Education by April 5.

Questions can be directed to Erin Larsen at or (605) 773-2533.

Smarter Balanced Pilot beginning soon

This spring, schools across South Dakota will participate in the Pilot Test of the Smarter Balanced assessments. The Pilot Test, which is slated to involve more than one million students in grades 3-11 nationwide, is being conducted in Smarter Balanced member states through late May. Aligned to the Common Core State Standards in English language arts and mathematics, the Smarter Balanced assessment system is designed to measure student progress toward college and career readiness.

The Pilot Test will allow Smarter Balanced to evaluate the performance of assessment items and the online test delivery system under real-world conditions. This information will be used to develop additional items and performance tasks, conduct initial scaling, and refine the test engine during the next 18 months.

Schools participating in the pilot will have access to support and resources, including a training test to become familiar with the format of the online assessment. Since the Pilot Test is designed to be a test of the items and performance tasks—not an opportunity to report on student learning—schools will not receive student scores. Furthermore, the test will not replace other statewide assessments.

There are two important phases to the Pilot Test. Approximately 100 South Dakota schools were recruited to participate in the scientific sample based on demographic characteristics. The scientific sample will ensure that the results from the Pilot Test accurately represent the student population across Smarter Balanced member states. Schools in the scientific sample will administer one content area (either mathematics or ELA/literacy) in up to two grades during a pre-determined two-week window under secure conditions.

As a Smarter Balanced member state, South Dakota plays a key role in the development of next-generation assessments aligned to the Common Core State Standards. Educators from across the state have participated in the development and review of assessment items, achievement level descriptors, and test specifications.

Smarter Balanced is developing a balanced system of assessments—with formative, interim and summative components—that measure achievement and growth toward college and career readiness.

Applications available for New Science Teacher Academy

It’s that time of year again! The National Science Teachers Association is now accepting applications for the 2013-14 New Science Teacher Academy program. New this year, the program is being opened up to second through fifth year science educators at the middle and high school levels. The deadline to apply is Aug. 1.

This free program provides each participant with:
- An e-pedagogy mentor and an e-content mentor. These mentors work with the new teacher on a weekly basis.
- An opportunity to participate in professional development web seminars with their cohort group from around the country throughout the school year.
- The opportunity to attend the 2014 NSTA National Conference in Boston to meet face-to-face with their cohort colleagues, their e-mentors, and experience the National Conference.
- Full membership to the NSTA (with all expenses covered by the NSTA).

Go to: for more information or to access application materials.

Online resources increasing mobile accessibility

Increased classroom and personal use of Android and Apple devices means using them for instruction and finding information. Do State Library online resources work on these devices? The answer is “mostly yes.”

On your e-device, find the State Library’s many resources the same way you always have by visiting the State Library homepage [] and clicking on online resources. From there, select the resource you need. If your device is using wifi from a public, school or academic library, you should have direct access. If not, use your barcode and password.

Proquest, SIRS Discoverer and SIRS Issues Researcher allow you to search, read journal articles, and cite them. The SIRS Issues Researcher read aloud feature doesn’t work on a mobile platform, but you can download the mp3 and listen to the article on your device.

You can use the practice exams, self-paced courses and ebooks in Learning Express with no problems. World Book is moving toward a tablet-friendly interface. While World Book articles are available on all the devices; special features like videos, sound and read aloud are not. World Book has two free iPad apps designed for younger students. World Book World of Animals (lite) [] features 20 different animals, games, sounds, compare features and more. World Book This Day in History [] lets you see selected events for a day in history, with short articles, speeches and pictures.

On Android, iPhone/ iTouch and Blackberry devices, World Book Student and World Book Advanced have mobile pages that you can select and view after logging into the World Book homepage via the State Library list of online resources. View the entire article, including pictures and maps.

Use State Library e-resources on your mobile device. And if a feature doesn’t work, wait awhile and the vendors will catch up! If you have questions, ask your librarian or contact the State Library Electronic Resources Coordinators, Julie Erickson or Jane Healy.

USDA proposes nutrition rules for foods sold in schools; submit comments now

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s proposed rule on nutrition standards for all foods sold in school was published in the Federal Register last month. To view the proposed rule, go to:

Information on how to submit a comment can be found on the second page of the document. Public comments are due before April 9.

Prairie Bud and Prairie Pasque voting ends soon

The voting deadline for South Dakota’s Prairie Bud/Prairie Pasque Book Award Contest is quickly approaching. Voting concludes March 31; winning titles will be announced during National Library Week in April.

Voting is being done exclusively online this year. All South Dakota students in grades K-5 who have read or have had read to them at least five of the titles on the list appropriate for their grade level are eligible to vote.

To view a reading list of this year’s nominees, go to:

To submit all Prairie Bud/Prairie Pasque votes, go to:


SDMyLife Network: Connecting students to the workforce
March 25, Mobridge

To help students identify their career path, transition successfully into postsecondary education and careers, and prepare to be productive citizens of the community, it is important for them to understand what the workforce demands. And who better knows the needs of employers than the employers themselves? You will learn how to leverage the expertise of employers to provide your students the information, advice, and encouragement they need. We will demonstrate how you can implement activities in the classroom to facilitate discussion forums between your students and career coaches in their careers of interest. Continuing education units are available.

Go to: to register, or contact for more information.

IEP workshops
April 10 in Rapid City OR April 17 in Sioux Falls

The IEP workshop will take you through all the essentials needed to provide students with a program that provides educational benefit. The 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.

The workshops run from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., local time. Six CEU hours are available. Registration is limited to 50 participants.

To register, go to:

TIE Conference
April 21-23, Rapid City

This year’s annual TIE Conference will be held at the Rushmore Plaza Civic Center, and will feature Adam Bellow and Richard Byrne as keynote speakers. Find more information at

CTE 101 Training
May 31, Rapid City

CTE 101 training fulfills the requirement for secondary teachers to become South Dakota Career & Technical Education (CTE) Qualified teachers for approved CTE programs.

Those teachers who are 1) new to teaching in approved CTE programs, 2) in their early years of teaching (either from teacher preparation programs or via alternative certification) or 3) who teach career or technical courses that are being added to approved CTE programs need to take this one-day qualification training.

The training will explore CTE initiatives, resources and program requirements. Attendees will receive a certificate of completion, CTE Qualification certificate and are eligible for Continuing Education hours.

Participants should bring a laptop computer equipped with Internet Explorer and Microsoft Excel.

To register, go to:

2013 Middle/High School (6-12) Science Academies
June 12 – July 11, Various locations statewide

South Dakota teachers will model three-dimensional instruction (Three Dimensions: Scientific and Engineering Practices, Disciplinary Core Ideas, and Crosscutting Concepts from the Framework for K-12 Science Education and NGSS) through activities and provide video evidence of this instruction occurring in South Dakota classrooms. The video footage is based on model lessons that have been aligned to the Next Generation Science Standards and South Dakota Science Standards.

Teachers will leave with three-dimensional lessons that can be immediately implemented and will gain an understanding of the vision for science education in South Dakota. Teachers also will leave the training with knowledge of the three-dimensional lesson-building process, which they can use to advance their curriculum.

This is a two-day regional training for middle school and high school science teachers. There are 10 locations with two trainings occurring per location. At each location, one training will be for middle school and one training will be for high school. Up to 60 teachers will be accommodated at each location, with 30 at each training. Stipends of $125/day, available through the Investing in Teachers effort, will be paid to each attending science teacher, for no more than two days of training. Therefore, teachers should only sign up for one training. A minimum of 20 teachers will be required to host a training.

Graduate credit will be available. More information will be sent out, post-registration, including what to bring, graduate credit information, specific location details, etc.

Go to: TO REGISTER Note: Registration closes April 26.

A complete calendar of Science Academy training dates is listed below:
June 12-13 – Aberdeen
June 12-13 – Rapid City
June 12-13 – Sioux Falls
June 19-20 – Mitchell
June 19-20 – Mobridge
June 19-20 – Pierre
June 26-27 – Watertown
June 26-27 – Yankton
July 10-11 – Rapid City
July 10-11 – Sioux Falls

For more details, visit " or contact

Harvest of the Month training
July 9-10 in Sioux Falls OR July 23-24 in Rapid City

Learn how to organize a Harvest of the Month Team for your school or community. Attendees will prepare recipes, create lessons and evaluation, discuss food-to-table demonstrations, and learn about growing and transplanting.

Participating teams are also eligible to apply for a $500 Team Nutrition mini-grant for implementation of a Harvest of the Month project. CEUs are available. Go to for details on how to register, or contact Mary Kirk for more information.


Wall CTE teacher inspires students through creativity

Wall CTE teacher Dani Herring was inspired to become an Ag teacher by the instructor she had in high school at Newell. Then as a senior in high school, she had the opportunity to coach an FFA Sales team.

“They ended up winning the state contest and that feeling of accomplishment was better than when my own team won the same award,” Herring said. “It was then that I decided I wanted to teach Ag and help students accomplish their goals.”

Two years into her career at Wall, Herring still puts some of those same life lessons she learned from her Ag teacher to practice. One of her favorite memories as a teacher so far was when Wall won a State FFA event and got to compete at the National FFA Convention.

“The students who were on that team worked hard and were rewarded for their efforts,” Herring said. “Seeing how happy it made them to be successful makes the long hours all worthwhile.”

Herring definitely has plenty to keep her busy at Wall. In addition to teaching a wide variety of classes and serving as the school’s FFA advisor, she also coaches volleyball and sits on the South Dakota FFA Foundation’s Executive Board.

“One of my favorite classes to teach is Ag Processing which covers Food Science, Dairy Foods and Meat Science. The students love creating their own food product – they get to design packaging, nutrition labels, develop a recipe and then make their product for the class,” Herring said.

“One of my favorite activities is in my Ag Metal Fabrication class. The students make horse shoe people as a welding project and it has to do with something they’re interested in. I have had everything from football players, golfers and calf ropers to a video game player complete with a miniature TV and game controller. Any project that we do where they get to express some creativity is fun for me, because you never know what students will come up with.”

Since beginning her career, Herring has tried to create projects that require students to do the work, rather than standing in front of the class lecturing. She also covers core content concepts with real world examples.

“I get to teach students about English by reading a user manual for a piece of equipment, math by calculating feed rations or making a bill of materials, and science through food processing and technology,” Herring said. “It’s fun for them to learn, which makes it fun for me to teach.”