March 2014

A message from the Secretary about the Smarter Balanced Field Test:


Legislature approves reduced cost for select dual credit courses

The legislature has approved funding that will make select dual credit coursework available to public high school students in grades 11-12 at the rate of $40 per credit beginning in the 2014-15 school year. Students will be able to take on-campus and online classes, including general education and career and technical education courses.

“As the governor said in his state-of-the-state address, this is a win-win-win-win,” said Secretary of Education Dr. Melody Schopp. “High school students will have access to high quality programming and can get a jump start on their postsecondary work. Postsecondary institutions get a chance to introduce themselves to prospective students. High schools gain flexibility to offer more opportunities to their students, and the state gets more well-trained young people who are ready to enter the state’s workforce.”

Dual credit is an opportunity for high school students who meet admission standards to enroll in a public postsecondary institution in South Dakota and simultaneously earn credit towards both their high school diploma and postsecondary degree or certificate.

In order to access the reduced cost courses, students will need to register for the coursework through their local school district. The district must agree to record the dual credit coursework on the student’s transcript and use it to calculate academic standing. Students will be responsible for the cost of course credits and any required textbooks or related course materials.

These dual credit courses will be offered by a postsecondary institution’s faculty members, governed by that institution’s policies, and follow the institution’s established processes for admission, registration, billing and grade reporting.

Details will be available soon at

Answering questions about Smarter Balanced

This Q & A is intended as a resource educators can use when visiting with parents about the upcoming Smarter Balanced Field Test.

Getting up to speed on Student Learning Objectives

The schedule of this summer’s SLO trainings for teachers is now available. As South Dakota moves towards evaluation systems that take into account both professional practices and student growth, this training is critical.

“As a state, we are trying to balance having a meaningful evaluation system – one that promotes continuous professional growth – and meeting our federal requirements. And sometimes that feels like a tightrope,” said Secretary of Education Dr. Melody Schopp. “These trainings will help all of us gain a better understanding of what SLOs are and how they can be used to enhance instruction and learning.”

For each training location (eg., Mobridge, Watertown), participants will be divided according to grade level and content area. For example, all 4th grade teachers will meet in one location, while all 6-12 social studies teachers will meet in another location. This has been done to encourage optimal collaboration and learning. Teachers will learn the basics of setting appropriate SLOs and how to identify appropriate measures to assess progress. There will also be time to practice writing quality SLOs with peers.

Registration is now available via the department’s online registration system at (NOTE: Site is best viewed in a browser other than Internet Explorer.)

The deadline to register is April 18.


• Once a preferred date/location has been identified, teachers should be sure to register for the specific session that best describes their position (eg., 4th grade, Elementary MS/HS Music, MS/HS Science, etc.) To access a list of specific sessions, go to:

• Public school teachers who attend the state-sponsored trainings will receive a $125/day stipend.

• CEUs will be available.

Scholarship available from SD Retired Teachers Association

The South Dakota Retired Teachers Association is offering a $1,000 scholarship for a South Dakota teacher seeking an advanced degree or national certification. Any current K-12 teacher with five or more years of experience is eligible. The deadline to apply is April 5.

Go to: for more information.

Serving English language learners in rural and urban settings

This is the final installment in a series on ELLs in South Dakota. In Huron and Sioux Falls, schools and communities are helping immigrants and refugees feel at home.

Employment opportunities and quality of living are attracting increasing numbers of immigrants and refugees to our state. The result is more diverse communities and more English language learners in South Dakota classrooms. The two largest student populations of ELLs are in Huron and Sioux Falls:

Ann Smith, federal programs coordinator for the Sioux Falls School District, says approximately 40 percent of the district’s ELL population has or has had refugee status.

Kari Hinker is the director of ESL and federal programs in the Huron School District. She says that more immigrants and refugees started moving to Huron when a turkey processing plant opened in the area about five years ago. A beef jerky plant in Alpena also has led to growth.

Spanish and Karen are the two most common languages spoken by immigrants and refugees in Huron. Many Karen speakers in the community come from Burma and Thailand. ELLs in the Sioux Falls School District speak more than 70 languages, including Arabic, Dinka, Nepali, Tigrinya, Ukrainian and Vietnamese.

Huron – Curriculum and instruction
For students who are new to the U.S. and qualify for ESL services, Huron has a newcomer program. Students can participate in this program for up to one year, working on their English-speaking skills and learning various customs of the country and school system.

High school students spend half days in the newcomer program, and middle school students attend for two hours a day. For elementary students, the program is incorporated into regular classroom time.

Hinker says, “They come out of it [newcomer program] and fit right in. It’s neat to see them acclimate so quickly to our culture. They’re very eager to learn.”

The district uses W-APT scores to screen students for language proficiency and now has a distinct ESL curriculum in place for each grade level. Huron utilizes a sheltered instruction model in which ELLs and native English speakers learn together.

Find more details about Huron’s ESL programming on the district’s website at:

Sioux Falls – Curriculum and instruction
In Sioux Falls, there are two levels of ESL programming: immersion and center-based. Students who are new to the country and/or have the most limited English proficiency attend an immersion center for up to two years. Immersion classrooms do not include native English speakers. ELLs are immersed in the English language at the same time they are learning the various content areas and American cultural expectations.

Center-based sites are for students who are not new to the country but who are not yet sufficiently proficient in English to succeed in a regular classroom without support. Eight elementary schools, two middle schools and all three high schools are center-based sites. In these schools, students are mainstreamed into classes with native English speakers. Classroom teachers at the center-based schools have been trained in sheltered instruction observation protocol (SIOP). Additional teachers with the English as a New Language endorsement provide direct language instruction for students and support classroom teachers in differentiating instruction.

Once students achieve proficiency, staff monitor their progress for two years to ensure that students are continuing to progress without residual language barriers.

Find more information about Sioux Falls’ ESL programming on the district’s website at:

School-home liaisons
Both Huron and Sioux Falls employ school-home liaisons who help families acclimate to life in the U.S. “These people are vital to what we do,” says Jane Hanneman, ELL program coordinator for the Sioux Falls School District. “I can see what a difference it makes. At my school, the school-home liaison gives the initial school tour and talks about what American schools look like.”

In some cultures, parents aren’t encouraged to get involved in their child’s education. Liaisons make sure parents know that in the U.S., they are welcome in their child’s classroom and they can talk to their child’s teacher at any time, not only at parent-teacher conferences.

Liaisons can also help families navigate non-education-related concerns like medical services.

Sioux Falls also runs a program called Parent U for two hours every Friday. During these sessions, liaisons offer parents guidance on everything from understanding their child’s Chromebook to counting American money.

Community support
Hinker says businesses, churches and volunteers in the community have stepped up to make families feel welcome in Huron. Business owners have helped new residents start businesses, including Asian and Hispanic grocery stores. Volunteers teach adult ESL classes and businesses have been eager to hire bilingual employees.

Charitable groups have donated winter clothing for families who are not used to harsh South Dakota winters. There is a backpack food program for disadvantaged students.

Huron also puts on a cultural fair every year where students showcase their home countries by displaying flags and pictures. Many of them also write about their experiences coming to the U.S.

In Sioux Falls, the Multicultural Center hosts special days to honor various cultures in the city. Every May, Hawthorne Elementary produces their International Festival. The school is transformed to create a simulated world tour, complete with ethnic food and fashions. Among other services in Sioux Falls, the Bowden Youth Center provides some students busing from school to after-school programming and back home.

School collaboration
While their districts may be different, Hinker, Hanneman and Smith all take a similar approach to serving their districts' English language learners—collaboration. They strongly recommend educators network with other districts, as well as community resource groups. The Department of Education is also available to help.

For more information, contact Yutzil Rodriguez, South Dakota Department of Education, at (605) 773-4698 or

Schools celebrate Spread the Word to End the Word Day

As part of an awareness campaign spearheaded by Special Olympics and the Best Buddies organization, the first Wednesday of March has been designated Spread the Word to End the Word Day. The goal is to end use of the R-word (eg., retard or retarded).

At Central High School in Rapid City, special education teacher Amy Heuston led a student video project for a second year ( Response is growing—last year’s video got about 700 views, but this year’s has already gotten almost three times as many hits. Heuston says she included as many people as possible in the video, in the hopes they would all help spread the message: “It’s been an overwhelming positive response.” She is already making plans for next year’s video.

Add to that Simmons Middle School’s effort in Aberdeen and the R-word doesn’t stand a chance. When Missy Hill’s 8th grade homeroom class heard about the special day, they planned a number of schoolwide activities to raise awareness. Hill is a special education teacher and the district’s Special Olympics coach.

Her students went in pairs to each homeroom and delivered two-minute speeches about why it’s important to stop using the R-word. They sold more than 200 Spread the Word to End the Word t-shirts and collected signatures from more than 500 students and staff pledging to stop using the offensive term. In addition, they held a poster contest (with prizes funded by t-shirt sales) and created a video.

Hill says parent-teacher conferences happened at the height of activities, so parents were greeted by walls plastered with posters and pledges.

For educators interested in the Spread the Word to End the Word campaign, promotional materials are available from South Dakota’s Special Olympics office. Contact Johna Thum for more information at “We distributed information to 68 schools this year. It grows every year!” says Thum.

Learn more at

Common Core made easy with MyOER

By Brenda LaBau and Shelly Mikkelson
South Park Elementary, Belle Fourche

The Common Core State Standards were designed to ensure students entering college courses or the workforce are prepared in the areas of mathematics, reading, writing, speaking and listening. The standards are clear and concise to ensure parents, teachers and students have a clear understanding of the expectations in these areas.

South Dakota teachers have been compiling and curating a collection of resources and lessons aligned to the Common Core State Standards for English language arts and mathematics to make finding supplemental lessons simple! This work can be viewed and used in the web-based portal It is as easy as creating a username and password and it is a free resource! Teachers may search by standard (recommended), by subject, or by an instructional focus code to find many quality lessons and units aligned to the Common Core State Standards.

An added benefit to this website is a link in the drop down menu to Blueprints from the South Dakota Department of Education website. These are blueprints designed for each grade level where several similar standards are grouped within an instructional focus code to be taught and assessed together. These Blueprints can be downloaded to be modified to fit a district's existing curriculum and timeframe, while showing areas where there might be gaps in the curriculum that can be supplemented with lessons from

Get started right away -- choose a standard, search it, click on one of the many different lessons, save it to the Resource Locker, and try it in your classroom. The Resource Locker is found in the drop down menu and is a storage place where lessons can be saved for future use.

For complete simple instructions on using, click on Jamalee Stone’s link to be instructed how to maneuver and use this site with ease:

No more searching hundreds of sites to find one lesson for one standard. The searching has been done for you and more lessons are being added daily.


Jeff Cosier is the information media specialist at Horace Mann Elementary in Rapid City, but he worked hard for his master’s in library science, so he doesn’t mind if you still call him the librarian.

The new title is important, though. Elementary schools in Rapid City have developed a new library curriculum (, focused on teaching students information literacy. The new curriculum provides consistency districtwide and better aligns with classroom instruction.

As Cosier explains, just finding information used to be difficult. Now it’s so easy to find, students need to know how to evaluate the information overload.

Information literacy teaches students to focus their research by asking questions. Once they’ve asked a question, they need to locate and access the information they need. Then they must ask themselves: Is this good information? How do I tell? Once they have good information, they need to know how to use it ethically, through paraphrasing, summarizing and proper citing; not plagiarizing.

Information and technology have become so intertwined, it’s hard to navigate a modern library without knowing how to use computers, e-readers and other devices. Because of this, the library curriculum now also covers skills that at one time would have been taught in a separate computer class.

The Horace Mann library is home to laptops, a Smart Board, a catalog of 500 e-books and downloadable audiobooks, and more. Students complete library assignments on Edmodo (

The South Dakota State Library has recognized Horace Mann as an Exemplary 21st Century School Library. The recognition program evaluates libraries’ performance in three areas: place, which refers to the learning environment (both physical and online), programming and professionalism.

Cosier credits the Exemplary Library recognition to not only the library’s, but the whole school’s, dedication to literacy. “It’s not just me, it’s the whole building,” he says. “This whole building really pushes literacy.”

Last summer, the library hosted a book club and the school’s literacy department organized a book exchange through which students could get new books every week of vacation.

Cosier says Horace Mann has a high population of economically disadvantaged students, so he strives to give them year-round, 24-hour access to the library. He gives them cards with the information they need to access electronic resources from home. “I know the kids here need it more than kids in other places. There’s a high need among our students,” he says. “If I wasn’t giving them the access to the technology, it wouldn’t be there for them.”

Once a week, after school, the library hosts a group of students who work on robotics with Lego NXT. Cosier is also working to get software that would help students learn about programming and video production.

In the end, though, it comes back to books. Cosier says, “I like turning kids into readers. I’m proud that I’ve turned non-readers into readers. My love of books has been infectious.”


Board of Education meeting
March 24, Sioux Falls

The South Dakota Board of Education is scheduled to meet at Southeast Technical Institute at 8:00 a.m. (CDT), room MC101, the Mickelson Center, 2320 N. Career Ave. An agenda is available at

FERPA: District Policies and Staff Access
March 24, online
March 31, online

The South Dakota Department of Education and experts from the U.S. Department of Education will team up to offer a series of webinars on the Family and Educational Rights and Privacy Act. All webinars will be offered twice and recorded. Districts are encouraged to send questions ahead of time to This webinar will focus on policies districts may want to consider as they relate to student data. In particular, staff and teacher access will be discussed.

Go to: for more information.

Building a Standards-Based Report Card 101

March 25 and June 4, Watertown

The South Dakota Department of Education is offering an opportunity to learn the essential steps in building an effective standards-based report card. This training will get your school/district on the right track to implementing a standards-based report card. It will focus on purpose, help align standards to student learning, and assist in recording students’ progress and achievement based on standards. The intent is to offer one approach to developing a standards-based report card through thoughtfully planned efforts and practical ideas.

The training will be on the two separate dates listed with time allotted in the interim to work on the report cards (homework for obtaining 1 graduate credit).

Go to: for more information.

Special Education Conference
March 25-26, Pierre

The 2014 South Dakota Special Education Conference (formerly the CEC Conference) will feature state-of-the-art, innovative and creative best practices to promote college, career and life readiness for all students. Filmmaker Dan Habib will be the keynote speaker. Habib’s film credits include Who Cares About Kelsey? and Including Samuel.

This event is sponsored by the Center for Disabilities, University of South Dakota Sanford School of Medicine and the South Dakota Department of Education Special Education Programs.

For more information, go to:

Dan Habib Parent Session
March 25, Pierre

This parent session is in conjunction with the Special Education Conference. It is open to the public and free of cost. Registration is encouraged, but not required.

Habib’s films have been screened at universities, national conferences, and independent theatres, and have been used as a catalyst for inclusive education across the country and internationally. Including Samuel was broadcast nationwide on public television stations in fall 2009 and was nominated for an Emmy in 2010. Including Samuel has also been featured on NPR's All Things Considered and Good Morning America. The DVD is available in 17 languages.

Habib has also created eleven short documentaries that illustrate a wide range of educational issues and evidence-based practices, including augmentative and alternative communication, positive behavioral interventions and supports, breaking the school-to-prison pipeline, universal design for learning, cultural responsiveness and more.

Go to: for more information.

Catch the Wave conference
March 31, Rapid City

Catch The Wave is a one-day conference designed specifically for high school students who have a disability and are considering postsecondary education (either college or technical institute). Students will learn about preparing for college life, securing appropriate accommodations, and developing self-advocacy and communication skills. Highlights of the conference will be panel discussions with individuals who have a disability and have experienced a postsecondary setting, as well as disability coordinators discussing entrance and eligibility requirements.

High school students, parents, special education teachers and school counselors are all encouraged to attend. The cost is $5 per person. Lunch will be provided. Registration is required. To register, contact your regional transition liaison.

Go to: for more information.

Part C to Part B Transition workshop
April 1, Rapid City
April 3, Sioux Falls

Participants in this workshop will:

• Learn about the roles and perspectives of all who are involved in the transition of children from Part C to Part B federal regulations

• Understand the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act 2004 early childhood transition requirements

• Gain information on effective communication, collaboration and coordination practices

• Have the opportunity to reflect upon and assess program practices

• Have the opportunity to determine program practices that will positively impact the transition experience for children, families and the staff working on their behalf

• Gain information on early childhood transition strategies and resources

• Gain understanding of the Part C federal regulation updates

Go to: for more information.

TIE Conference
April 13-15, Sioux Falls

The theme of this year’s TIE Conference is ‘connect.’ Keynote speaker Catlin Tucker will discuss blended learning and the challenges many teachers face in trying to teach 21st century students without easy access to 21st century tools. Keynote speaker Kathy Schrock will talk about presenting content through digital storytelling and the research behind this pedagogical shift.

The conference will feature breakout sessions and half-day in-depth workshops. Graduate credit and contact hours are available. For more information and to register, go to:

2014 National Forum on Dropout Prevention for Native and Tribal Communities
April 27-30, Prior Lake, MN

The 2014 National Forum on Dropout Prevention Strategies for Native and Tribal Communities is titled "Building Engaging Educational Communities for Native Students." Hear from nationally known keynote speakers as well as professional educators. Presentations will emphasize a variety of strategies for working with Native students who are at risk of dropping out before high school graduation. Conference strands include the following:

• Addressing the opportunity gap
• Instructional strategies to increase learning
• Emotional supports
• School climate: safety and student wellness
• Service-learning and restorative justice
• Digital communication and engagement
• Re-engagement and recovery strategies
• Culture and language

For more information, go to:

Statewide Education Conference
June 2-3, Pierre

Mark your calendars for the 2014 Statewide Education Conference to be held this June in Pierre. Keynote speakers Dr. Richard Cash and Lori Laughlin will each lead day-long workshops. College credit will be available when required hours of attendance are met.

Cash is an internationally recognized expert on differentiation and learning. Teachers who attend his workshop will:

• Learn specific techniques for differentiation in the 21st century classroom

• Be able to design rigorous learning options for all students

• Be able to build a thinking classroom using 21st century tools

• Be able to support student readiness through purposeful differentiation

• Learn about differentiating by interests and learning type

• Understand how effective differentiation supports the teaching and learning process

Laughlin’s workshop is titled “The Essential Conversation – What Parents and Teachers Can Learn from Each Other.” Research demonstrates the impact parents have on their children’s academic success, but teachers don’t always know how best to engage them. Laughlin’s workshop will focus on building effective partnerships between parents and teachers. Attendees will learn strategies for the following:

• Effective parent-teacher conferences

• Implementation of the Curriculum of the Home

• Linking to learning

• Communication and relationship building

• Family/community partnership

Registration opens April 1.

Contact or for more information.

Orientation to SLOs for Teachers
June 30-Aug. 1, various locations statewide

The deadline to register is April 18.

For each training location (eg., Mobridge, Watertown), participants will be divided according to grade level and content area. For example, all 4th grade teachers will meet in one location, while all 6-12 social studies teachers will meet in another location. This has been done to encourage optimal collaboration and learning. Teachers will learn the basics of setting appropriate SLOs and how to identify appropriate measures to assess progress. There will also be time to practice writing quality SLOs with peers.

Registration is now available via the department’s online registration system at (NOTE: Site is best viewed in a browser other than Internet Explorer.)


• Once a preferred date/location has been identified, teachers should be sure to register for the specific session that best describes their position (eg., 4th grade, Elementary MS/HS Music, MS/HS Science, etc.) To access a list of specific sessions, go to:

• Teachers who attend the state-sponsored trainings will receive a $125/day stipend.

• CEUs will be available.

These are only a few upcoming events. Go to for a complete listing.