Oct. 17, 2013


Lindskov selected as 2014 Teacher of the Year

LuAnn Lindskov, Timber Lake High School math and science teacher, has been selected as the 2014 South Dakota Teacher of the Year. The announcement was made during a banquet this evening at the Cedar Shore Conference Center in Oacoma.

Lindskov, who lives in Isabel, is a National Board Certified Teacher. She is a member of Black Hills State University’s QuarkNet, a group of South Dakota science teachers who study subatomic physics and network their students with physicists and students from around the world to collect and share cosmic radiation data. In summer 2011, she was selected for and attended BootCamp in advanced particle physics research at the FermiLab National Laboratory near Chicago.

“The caliber of candidates for this honor is second to none. I commend them all. I’m thrilled that LuAnn is being recognized for her holistic approach to education,” said South Dakota Secretary of Education Melody Schopp. “She’s connected and therefore keeps her students connected to the community, region, state and country.”

A panel of educators from across the state selected Lindskov from among five regional finalists. In addition to Lindskov, other finalists included: Mindy Foltz, Rosholt School District; Donna DeKraai, Brookings School District; Sonya Fossum, Mitchell School District; and Tammy Jo Schlechter, Custer School District.

As recipient of the honor, Lindskov receives $9,000 in cash prizes and a $7,000 technology package to use in her classroom. Prize packages are made possible through the generosity of private businesses and organizations.

In addition, Lindskov will represent South Dakota as a candidate for the National Teacher of the Year award. The National Teacher of the Year Program began in 1952 and continues as the oldest, most prestigious national honors program that focuses public attention on excellence in teaching. The 2014 National Teacher of the Year will be announced during a ceremony in Washington, D.C., in April.

To listen to a conversation with the 2014 Teacher of the Year go to: http://youtu.be/3xqOwXXug64.

Answering questions about Common Core

South Dakota schools are fully implementing new standards in English-language arts and math this year. While academic content standards are not new in South Dakota, they may be a new concept for some parents. The Q&A below provides basic information about the Common Core State Standards that educators can use when visiting with parents and other community members.

What are the Common Core State Standards?
The Common Core standards provide a clear and rigorous set of expectations for what students should know and be able to do at the end of each grade level (K-12) in two subject areas: English-language arts and math. They are called “common” because the standards are shared by 45 states that voluntarily chose to adopt them as their state standards.

The standards are research-based and aligned to expectations for college and career readiness.

How do these standards differ from previous standards?
South Dakota has had standards in various content areas for many years. The biggest difference between the Common Core standards and the state’s previous standards in ELA and math is that they promote a deeper understanding of key concepts, as well as the ability to apply knowledge.

If you would like to learn more about the six shifts associated with each content area, visit commoncore.sd.gov and follow the “What are the standards?” link.

What’s the difference between standards and curriculum?
Standards provide the framework for learning expectations at each grade level. Curriculum has to do with how the standards are taught, including instructional methods as well as the selection of instructional materials. In South Dakota, the Legislature gave the state Board of Education authority to develop standards. It is the responsibility of local school districts to develop their own curriculum.

Why do we need new standards in ELA and math?
Growing competition makes it critical that South Dakota students leave the K-12 system ready for the challenges of college and careers in the 21st century. The Common Core standards in ELA and math ask students to think critically, to problem solve, and to apply knowledge to real-world situations, which are skills that today’s employers say they are looking for in a workforce. It’s about properly preparing students for success in today’s world.

How were these standards developed?
The effort to develop common standards among the states was led by the governors and chief education leaders in the participating states. These two groups pulled together education experts from across the country to reflect current thinking in education, the realities of the classroom, and aspirations for children.

As the standards were written, educators in the participating states, including here in South Dakota, had multiple opportunities to vet the standards, crosswalk them to existing standards, and to offer feedback. As with any adoption of academic standards in South Dakota, the proposed standards were brought before the state Board of Education for review and approval. The board voted to adopt the standards in November 2010.

Where can I learn more?
The website commoncore.sd.gov is a joint effort of the South Dakota Department of Education, Associated School Boards of South Dakota, School Administrators of South Dakota, South Dakota Board of Regents, and South Dakota Education Association. The site now includes videos of several South Dakota teachers talking about the shifts associated with the new standards.

SD Commission on Teaching and Learning develops model teacher effectiveness system

This story is the first in a series on the continuing development of South Dakota’s model teacher effectiveness system. Next month, we will focus on measures of student growth and in December, we will talk to educators who are implementing the system this year as part of a pilot program.

Beginning in the 2014-15 school year, South Dakota public school districts will be required to have teacher effectiveness systems in place. The South Dakota Commission on Teaching and Learning (CTL) has developed a model system that meets ESEA flexibility requirements and encourages meaningful evaluation and development of effective teaching. The CTL’s work builds on that of work groups that started this process in the summer of 2012.

The CTL is a partnership of the following entities:
• South Dakota Education Association
• Associated School Boards of South Dakota
• School Administrators of South Dakota
• South Dakota Department of Education

“This evaluation system represents tremendous opportunity for professional development. The system provides a framework for conversation between evaluators and those being evaluated,” said South Dakota Secretary of Education Melody Schopp. “At the end of the process, teachers have a clear understanding of what they can do to continually improve their instruction.”

The model system of evaluation is available for all South Dakota school districts to use. However, at its Oct. 1 meeting, the South Dakota Board of Education passed rules that would allow districts to use their own system for evaluating teachers, as long as the system aligns with the South Dakota standards for teaching (South Dakota Framework for Teaching), is research based, and includes a valid measure of student growth. Districts that are interested in taking advantage of this flexibility would need to apply to the Department of Education.

“We’ve come a long way in developing this model. My congratulations go out to those educators who were a part of this process,” Dr. Schopp said. “It was extremely difficult but meaningful work.”

Teacher Effectiveness Model
The model teacher evaluation system is based on a clear set of objectives. The goal is to provide regular opportunities for educators to engage in professional conversations focused on improving instructional practice:

1. The purpose of the teacher evaluation is to continually improve instruction and student learning.

2. The evaluation process encourages professional teacher-administrator relationships as a basis for structuring meaningful, in-depth dialogue focused on student learning.

3. The evaluation process uses multiple measures of teaching practice and student growth to meaningfully differentiate teacher performance.

4. The evaluation process communicates clearly defined expectations and provides regular, timely, and useful feedback that guides professional growth for teachers.

5. The evaluation process is a fair, flexible, and research-based mechanism to create a culture in which data drives instructional decisions.

6. The evaluation process will be used to inform personnel decisions.

Under the model system, teachers will receive both a professional practice rating and a student growth rating. The two separate ratings are combined using a summative rating matrix. This tool provides the opportunity for evaluators to exercise professional judgment prior to classifying teacher performance into one of three categories (Below Expectations, Meets Expectations, Exceeds Expectations).

The recommended method does not rely on a uniform formula to calculate effectiveness ratings. Instead, the method prioritizes professional practices relative to the South Dakota Framework for Teaching (Charlotte Danielson model), while also incorporating evaluations of student growth as one significant factor.

Go to: http://www.doe.sd.gov/pressroom/zebra/2013/oct/images/TEPSystem.png to view graphic summary.


The professional practice rating is based on the state’s professional teaching standards known as the South Dakota Framework for Teaching. Evaluations are supported by evidence gathered through formal observation and by other evidence demonstrating performance relative to the teaching standards. The teaching standards include 22 components grouped into four domains:

1) Planning and Preparation
2) Classroom Environment
3) Instruction
4) Professional Responsibilities


Quantitative measures of student growth are the other significant factor in determining and differentiating teacher effectiveness. Data from state standardized tests must be one of the quantitative measures used to evaluate the performance of teachers who provide instruction in state-tested grades and subjects.

Given that the state assessment is administered to limited grade levels and subject areas, it is important to note that the model system includes a common process for evaluating student growth for the broad range of teachers. Evaluators and teachers collaborate in a goal-setting process and the establishment of Student Learning Objectives, or SLOs, which serve as the foundation for evaluating a teacher’s impact on student growth. These SLOs reflect a rigorous, yet realistic expectation of student growth that can be achieved during a given instructional period.

“Using student growth, as opposed to student achievement results from a single test delivered once a year, is much more reflective of the impact an individual teacher has on student learning,” Dr. Schopp said.


The model system includes the following observation schedule to support the professional practice piece of evaluation:

Probationary teachers (teachers in years one through three of continuous employment)
--Two formal observations of professional practice per year
--Four informal observations per year; one prior to the first formal observation, then the remainder delivered throughout the year

Non-probationary teachers (teachers in their fourth contract and beyond)
--One formal observation of professional practice per year
--Four informal observations per year

Training to support professional practice evaluations will be delivered through Teachscape Focus, a comprehensive web-based training program aligned to the South Dakota Framework for Teaching. Teachscape Focus provides in-depth training for both teachers and evaluators. Additional support for professional practice evaluations is provided through Teachscape Reflect, a web-based evaluation management system. Teachscape Reflect functions as a workflow management system, houses essential supporting documents, allows evidence to be stored online and supports the calculation of the overall professional practices rating. The state is providing these tools to all public school districts.

Training related to SLOs also will be offered beginning spring 2014.

To learn more about the model teacher effectiveness system being piloted this year, view the South Dakota Teacher Effectiveness Handbook at http://www.doe.sd.gov/oatq/documents/TEPHandbk.pdf.

Contact Carla Leingang with any questions at Carla.Leingang@state.sd.us.

Blue Ribbon Schools announced

The U.S. Department of Education has announced its 2013 Blue Ribbon Schools, a distinguished group of 290 schools across the country that includes four from South Dakota:

• Faulkton Elementary
• Gertie Belle Rogers Elementary, Mitchell
• Harvey Dunn Elementary, Sioux Falls
• St. Joseph School, Pierre

Kudos to these four schools!

Blue Ribbon schools are selected for their overall academic excellence or their progress in improving student achievement. 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 420 eligible schools nationwide may be nominated, with allocations determined by the numbers of K-12 students and schools in each jurisdiction. The U.S. Secretary of Education invites nominated schools to submit an application for possible recognition as a National Blue Ribbon School. U.S. Ed will honor all of this year’s National Blue Ribbon Schools at a recognition ceremony Nov. 18-19 in Washington, D.C.

State AP Scholars recognized

Two South Dakota high school students received the College Board’s State AP® Scholar Awards based on outstanding performance on the 2013 Advanced Placement® Exams.

Adam Bierstedt, Lincoln High School, Sioux Falls, and Yekaterina Grigoryeva, Washington High School, Sioux Falls, are among 106 students nationwide to receive this honor.

The College Board confers this distinction on the top male and female students in each U.S. state and the District of Columbia with scores of 3 or higher on the greatest number of AP Exams, and then the highest average score (at least 3.5) on all AP Exams taken.

The College Board’s AP Program provides students with the opportunity to take rigorous college-level courses while still in high school and to earn college credit, advanced placement or both for successful performance on the AP Exams.

Congratulations to our two South Dakota AP scholars!

Classroom innovation grants awarded

Recipients of classroom innovation grants have been announced. The 2013 Legislature designated $500,000 in one-time money for the South Dakota Department of Education to provide classroom innovation grants to public K-12 teachers, public school districts, and education service agencies. The grants are to fund classroom innovation, allowing classroom teachers to utilize technology in creative and innovative ways to enhance the learning and achievement of their students. The maximum grant amount is $25,000.

Congratulations to all of these classroom innovators!

For a complete list of educators receiving classroom innovation grant money, go to: http://www.doe.sd.gov/secretary/documents/ClassInnAw.pdf.

*Indicates a repeat session of training previously offered by the Department of Education.

Capstones and Service Learning Trainings
Oct. 22-Nov. 14 – Various locations statewide

Capstone experiences allow students the opportunity to consolidate and apply the learning from their high school coursework into a meaningful and relevant career-related experience. These experiences include Entrepreneurship Experience, Senior Experience, Service Learning and Youth Internship. Learn about opportunities that await your school, strategies for implementation, and resources to get started.

To learn more, go to: http://doe.sd.gov/onlinecalendar/.

*Common Core: 6-12 Math Module 5 & 6
Oct. 22, Chamberlain
Oct. 28, Sioux Falls
Nov. 4, Rapid City
Nov. 15, Aberdeen

Module Five: In this module, participants will learn strategies to infuse higher-order instructional practices and help students extend and apply knowledge. Infusing higher-order thinking strategies increases the chances students will make connections to the schema when they encounter new information and be able to make sense of that information. (Danielson Framework: Domain 3)

Module Six: This module will help participants assess the higher-order thinking emphasized in Common Core standards. Participants will also gain knowledge of benefits and how to implement a quality, well-balanced plan for utilizing formative, interim and summative assessment. (Danielson Framework: Domains 1 and 3)

To register, go to: http://southdakota.gosignmeup.com/.

*Common Core: 6-12 ELA Module 5 & 6
Oct. 29, Chamberlain
Oct. 31, Sioux Falls
Nov. 14, Rapid City

Module Five: In this module, participants will learn strategies to infuse higher-order instructional practices and help students extend and apply knowledge. Infusing higher-order thinking strategies increases the chances students will make connections to the schema when they encounter new information and be able to make sense of that information. (Danielson Framework: Domain 3)

Module Six: This module will help participants assess the higher-order thinking emphasized in Common Core standards. Participants will also gain knowledge of benefits and how to implement a quality, well-balanced plan for utilizing formative, interim and summative assessment. (Danielson Framework: Domains 1 and 3)

To register, go to: http://southdakota.gosignmeup.com/.

*Common Core: K-5 Module 5 & 6
Nov. 4, Chamberlain
Nov. 5, Aberdeen
Nov. 12, Sioux Falls

Module Five: In this module, participants will learn strategies to infuse higher-order instructional practices and help students extend and apply knowledge. Infusing higher-order thinking strategies increases the chances students will make connections to the schema when they encounter new information and be able to make sense of that information. (Danielson Framework: Domain 3)

Module Six: This module will help participants assess the higher-order thinking emphasized in Common Core standards. Participants will also gain knowledge of benefits and how to implement a quality, well-balanced plan for utilizing formative, interim and summative assessment. (Danielson Framework: Domains 1 and 3)

To register, go to: http://southdakota.gosignmeup.com/.

*Common Core: K-12 Module 2 & 3
Nov. 5, Rapid City

Module Two: Common Core 101 will be a one-day workshop.

The workshop will focus on reviewing and understanding Common Core KUD concepts and Webb Leveling. Participants will engage in a process to analyze lessons to ensure alignment to the disaggregated Common Core State Standards (KUD) and meet the cognitive demand of the Common Core (Webb Leveling.) Participants will also discuss the relationship of formative and summative assessments and evaluate the purposes and uses of assessment. (Danielson Framework: Domain 1)

Module 3 will be online follow-up work for both Math and ELA.

To register, go to: http://southdakota.gosignmeup.com/.

Board of Education meeting
Nov. 18, Pierre

The South Dakota Board of Education is scheduled to meet Nov. 18 in Pierre, at the MacKay Building, 800 Governors Drive. An agenda will be posted at doe.sd.gov/board at least 24 hours in advance of the meeting.

TEACHER FEATURE This month’s Teacher Feature is a review of the five distinguished Regional Teachers of the Year for 2014. All were recognized during a banquet at the annual Systems Change Conference, held Oct. 17 in Oacoma. Congratulations to these phenomenal educators!

Mindy Foltz – Rosholt School District
“I try to help my students understand the responsibility they have for their education, and they can trust that I will help them with that responsibility. As long as they are willing, I will be there.”

When Mindy Foltz says she will be there, she means it. On the first day of class, she gives students her cell number and email address, so that she can help them any time they struggle with their math homework. Her students take advantage of the opportunity. One student was shocked when she responded to a 2 a.m. text about math. Students also take advantage of the help she offers in her classroom before school, during her prep hour, over lunch, and after school.

Foltz started her teaching career with the Rosholt School District and has been there for five years, teaching math to 7th-12th graders. She does more than teach math, though. A student writes, “Our school does not have a hired counselor, but many students consider Mrs. Foltz the counselor. When my mother passed away when I was in the 11th grade, Mrs. Foltz was right there with a box of Kleenex, a warm hug and healing words that helped me get through the year.”

Donna DeKraai – Brookings School District
“I consider my classroom environment to be a safe haven for all children; they are free to test their wings and fly.”

Donna DeKraai thrives on getting her students excited about learning, and the parents of her students recognize that commitment. One parent wrote, “Not only did [our daughter’s] scores improve, which boosted her self-confidence, Donna was instrumental in helping [her] develop a love for reading, which she still has today.”

DeKraai has spent 23 years teaching in elementary classrooms in her hometown of Brookings, where she is currently a 3rd grade teacher at Hillcrest Elementary. She obtained her master’s in education from South Dakota State University. From 2002 to 2008, she served as President of the South Dakota Education Association, a role she found rewarding because it allowed her to advocate for the profession she loves. A fellow teacher wrote, “[Donna] is the epitome of professionalism in education through her actions in the school setting and her involvement outside of the school setting.”

Sonya Fossum – Mitchell School District
“Being a teacher means teaching with your heart. I am blessed every fall with a new group of young boys and girls each with a unique personality, each with a different background, and each with a wide array of strengths and weaknesses. Over the course of the year, I need to enhance their strengths and diminish their weaknesses, while finding ways to encourage the development of their maturing and magnificent personalities.”

Sonya Fossum has been teaching for 25 years, the past 17 in the Mitchell School District. She graduated from Augustana College and later obtained her master’s in early childhood and primary education from the University of Northern Colorado. She serves on her school’s technology committee and helps her colleagues incorporate technology into their teaching. For Fossum, each school year is a brief moment in time within which to make the biggest impact she can on her young students’ lives.

A coworker wrote, “She has a soft and gentle heart. She loves to teach and watch children learn and grow. Sonya sets a positive tone in her classroom where each student is valued and allowed to successfully learn at their pace and individual learning style.”

LuAnn Lindskov – Timber Lake School District
“I do not settle for less than my absolute best when I am teaching, and I expect nothing less from my students. I strive to be a better teacher tomorrow than I was today.”

While LuAnn Lindskov originally planned to become a chemical engineer, college professors who noticed her skill as a tutor encouraged her to become a math and science teacher instead. In education, she found her passion. A National Board Certified Teacher, she has been teaching for 28 years. She is a leader in curriculum implementation in her district. Beyond her own district, she has provided professional development in leadership and technology integration to teachers in nine surrounding districts. In addition, Lindskov serves her community by advising student-led projects like Operation Backpack and a free storehouse of clothing and personal items for students in need.

A colleague wrote, “Outside of the classroom, LuAnn is always willing to take on extra duties and responsibilities as needed. She has served as a mentor teacher for many new teachers... Mrs. Lindskov networks with some of the top educational professionals in our nation. LuAnn is part of our district leadership team and contributes greatly to setting, communicating, and implementing goals for our school district.”

Tammy Jo Schlechter – Custer School District
“Teaching, or the successful facilitation of learning, is an intricate weave of lesson plan design, meaningful assessment, students’ disposition and engagement, and professional development.”

Tammy Jo Schlechter has been teaching for 18 years and currently teaches math, reading, and social studies to 6th-8th graders at Hermosa School. She is thrilled to be a trainer in the implementation of the Common Core math standards in South Dakota. By getting out the word about best practices and instructional strategies, she hopes to light a fire within her fellow educators. In the classroom, Schlechter strives every day to get her students fired up about learning, going so far as to become a human math manipulative, demonstrating the multiplicative inverse or reciprocal of a fraction by standing on her head to show how the numbers she wears switch from numerator to denominator and vice versa.

Her principal wrote, “…she is implementing new instructional practices that include students working to solve problems using multiple strategies and integrating high-level thinking in regard to their learning. Tammy Jo is challenging her students to go above and beyond their abilities and is motivating them to do their best on a daily basis in her classroom.”