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SD Department of Education Jan. 2017  

TEACHER FEATURE: Mitchell teacher receives $25,000 Milken Educator Award

Amanda Christensen, a 4th grade teacher at Longfellow Elementary School in Mitchell, has received a $25,000 award that Teacher magazine calls the “Oscar of Teaching.” Gov. Dennis Daugaard, State Education Secretary Dr. Melody Schopp and Greg Gallagher, senior program administrator for the Milken Educator Awards, surprised Christensen with a Milken Educator Award during a recent school assembly.

Watch video of Christensen’s reaction, courtesy of the Milken Foundation:[https://youtu.be/qTFlgYzZWVY]

“Teachers are the foundation of a quality education,” said Gov. Daugaard. “It’s an honor to be part of this special recognition for one of our state’s educators. I commend Amanda for the great work she is doing in both her classroom and her community.”

One example of Christensen's work with the community is the relationship she has developed with LifeQuest, a local organization that helps adults with disabilities. LifeQuest clients have donated books to Christensen’s classroom. She then invites the clients into her classroom, so her students can read the donated books to them. In the spring, her students visit their friends at LifeQuest to replant flower beds.

  • Read more about Christensen and find more photos from the big day on her page on the Milken Educator Award website [http://www.milkeneducatorawards.org/educators/view/amanda-christensen].

Longfellow students are surprised to learn one of their teachers is about to be given $25,000. Photo courtesy of the Milken Foundation
Longfellow students are surprised to learn one of their teachers is about to be given $25,000.
Photo courtesy of the Milken Foundation

Christensen received a Bachelor of Arts in elementary education with a minor in special education and a master’s from Augustana University in Sioux Falls, S.D.

“There are so many great things happening in South Dakota classrooms,” said Secretary of Education Dr. Melody Schopp. “Amanda Christensen’s classroom is one such example. I feel deeply fortunate on days like this to get to celebrate the teaching profession. I’m excited for Amanda and proud of all of our state’s teachers who make a difference in the lives of students every day.”

Christensen (middle) with (l to r) previous SD Milken winners Sherri Becker (2003) and Gina Benz (2015), Secretary of Education Dr. Melody Schopp, Milken representative Greg Gallagher, previous SD Milken winner LeeAnna Rabine (2014) and Gov. Dennis Daugaard. Photo courtesy of the Milken Foundation
Christensen (middle) with (l to r) previous SD Milken winners Sherri Becker (2003) [http://www.milkeneducatorawards.org/educators/view/sherri-becker] and Gina Benz (2015) [http://www.milkeneducatorawards.org/educators/view/gina-benz], Secretary of Education Dr. Melody Schopp, Milken representative Greg Gallagher, previous SD Milken winner LeeAnna Rabine (2014) [http://www.milkeneducatorawards.org/educators/view/leeanna-rabine] and Gov. Dennis Daugaard. Photo courtesy of the Milken Foundation

The Milken Educator Awards program, created by the Milken Family Foundation, is in its 30th year. The prestigious honor will be presented at up to 35 schools during the 2016-17 school year. More than $138 million in funding, including $68 million in individual $25,000 awards, has been devoted to the program, which includes professional development opportunities throughout recipients’ careers. Since South Dakota joined the Milken Educator Awards program in 2002, a total of $475,000 has been awarded to 19 South Dakota recipients.

Watch a compilation of previous South Dakota Milken winners receiving their awards: [https://youtu.be/p1CpwVDONrY]

Candidates for the Milken Educator Awards are selected based on the following criteria:

  • Exceptional educational talent, as evidenced by effective instructional practices and student learning results in the classroom and school
  • Exemplary educational accomplishments beyond the classroom that provide models of excellence for the profession
  • Individuals whose contributions to education are largely unheralded yet worthy of the spotlight
  • Early- to mid-career educators who offer strong, long-range potential for professional and policy leadership
  • Engaging and inspiring presence that motivates and impacts students, colleagues and the community
To learn more about the Milken Educator Award, visit www.milkeneducatorawards.org.

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/]

Screen shot from video 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.

SD teachers recognized at national CTE teacher convention

The joint Association for Career and Technical Education (ACTE) and National Association of Agricultural Educators (NAAE) convention took place Nov. 30-Dec. 3, in Las Vegas. South Dakota was well represented, with teachers earning recognitions and serving as officeholders.

Photo of Shane Gross, Sanborn Central and Woonsocket school districts, receiving the NAAE Teachers Turn the Key professional development scholarship.

Shane Gross, Sanborn Central and Woonsocket school districts, received the NAAE Teachers Turn the Key professional development scholarship. The Teachers Turn the Key scholarship brings together agricultural educators with four or fewer years of experience and immerses them in three days of professional development that addresses issues specific to the early years of teaching agriculture.

Photo of Kelly Keller

Kelly Keller, Arlington School District (left), was selected to participate in the NAAE eXcellence in Leadership for Retention (XLR8) program. XLR8 is a year-long professional development program that targets agriculture teachers in their seventh-15th year of teaching. The overall goals of this program include developing experienced teacher leaders who will mentor other teachers in the profession; providing mid-career-level specific professional development to participants; as well as increasing overall longevity and satisfaction of participants with their chosen career of teaching agriculture.

Photo of Lisa Steinken, Rapid City Central High School, receiving the NAAE Ideas Unlimited award

Lisa Steinken, Rapid City Central High School, received the NAAE Ideas Unlimited award for Region III. The Ideas Unlimited contest is designed to give members an opportunity to exchange classroom, SAE (Supervised Agricultural Experience), leadership and other teaching ideas.

Photo of John Rist, Viborg-Hurley School District

John Rist, Viborg-Hurley School District, was named the ACTE Region V winner and a national finalist for the ACTE Carl Perkins Community Service Award. The Carl Perkins Community Service Award is presented to ACTE members who have used career and technical education to make a significant impact on a community/humanitarian cause through leadership in programs and activities that promote community involvement. Read the news release about Rist’s recognitions [http://www.acteonline.org/general.aspx?id=10932#.WEbPqP7ruUl].

Photo of Beverly Rieck, Dell Rapids School District

Beverly Rieck, Dell Rapids School District, was named the ACTE Region V winner and a national finalist for the ACTE Lifetime Achievement Award. This award recognizes the contributions and distinguished accomplishments of members who have been identified with the work and purposes of the Association for Career and Technical Education over an extended period of time. Read the news release about Rieck’s recognitions [http://www.acteonline.org/general.aspx?id=10933#.WEbQVv7ruUl].

Terry Rieckman, McCook Central School District, finished his year of service as NAAE president and will now serve a year as NAAE past president. He also served as Region III vice president from 2011-2014.

Terry Rieckman, McCook Central School District (right), finished his year of service as NAAE president and will now serve a year as NAAE past president. He also served as Region III vice president from 2011-2014.

CTE Logo. CTE Learning that works for South Dakota.
Apply by March 13 for Workforce Education Grants

The Department of Education is now accepting applications for the second round of 2017 Workforce Education Grants. This is school districts’ chance to make transformative changes in career and technical education programs.

Educators, here are some things to ask yourselves, if your school district is considering applying:

  • What have you always wanted to make happen in your career and technical education programs?
  • What kind of career guidance programs have you hoped to create?
  • In what ways could your current programs be revised to align with today’s high-tech, knowledge-based industries?
  • What partnerships have you wanted to establish or grow, but haven’t had the resources to dedicate to the effort?
  • What kinds of work-based learning experiences have you hoped to incorporate in your students’ education?
  • In what ways have you wanted to customize students’ educational experiences?
  • What would it take to blur the lines between academic learning and career preparation?
Resources for the 2017 Workforce Education Grants are available on the Department of Education website [http://doe.sd.gov/octe/WEG.aspx].

Applications are due March 13. Awards will be announced by April 14, and projects can start in May.

“Office hours” conference calls with Department of Education Career and Technical Education staff will be held on the dates and times listed below. Educators are welcome to connect at any time during these calls to ask questions about the grants and discuss project ideas.

  • Friday, Jan. 27, 2:30 – 4 p.m. CST
    • Connect via Skype [https://meet.lync.com/stateofsouthdakota/tiffany.sanderson/G6TJPJSK] or call 1-866-410-8397 (conference code: 7708795296)
  • Friday, Feb. 10, 12:30 – 2 p.m. CST
    • Connect via Skype [https://meet.lync.com/stateofsouthdakota/tiffany.sanderson/88GCSC02] or call 1-866-410-8397 (conference code: 7708795296)

The Digital Library Are you using Interim Assessments and the Digital Library yet?

Educators at all grade levels (not just tested grade levels) are finding value in Smarter Balanced resources that are available year-round:

  • The Smarter Balanced Interim Assessments [http://doe.sd.gov/octe/Interim.aspx] page on the Department of Education’s website has been updated with tutorials for each part of the Interim Assessment administration and scoring process.

  • The Digital Library [https://www.smarterbalancedlibrary.org/] contains more than 2,500 high quality instructional and professional learning resources contributed by educators, for educators. Two new playlists connecting Interim Assessments and the Digital Library have been added to the Featured Resources:
    • Grade 5 Fractions
    • Grade 8 Research

    Access to the Digital Library requires a user account. Most South Dakota educators already have access. Any teacher unsure of his/her username and password is encouraged to check with his/her school’s assessment coordinator. For more information on the Digital Library, contact Joe Moran with the South Dakota Department of Education at joe.moran@state.sd.us or (605) 773-3247.

Stock photo of student learing CPR next to instructor
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 webpage [http://doe.sd.gov/octe/cpr.aspx]. 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.

stock photo of teacher holding paper that says History Two opportunities to nominate great history teachers
Nominations are being accepted for two awards honoring history teachers.
  • State Historical Society History Teacher of the Year (nomination deadline Feb. 27)

    Nominations are being accepted for the 2017 South Dakota K-12 History Teacher of the Year, one of the Governor's Awards for History coordinated by the South Dakota State Historical Society. The society seeks to pay tribute to a teacher who excels in teaching the history of South Dakota. Elementary and secondary teachers are eligible.

    Nominations need to be submitted on an official nomination form, which can be obtained by contacting Jeff Mammenga at (605) 773-6000 or Jeff.Mammenga@state.sd.us. Completed nominations must be received by Feb. 27. Nominated teachers will be asked to fill out an application form that needs to be returned by March 23.

    The Governor's Awards for History will be presented Saturday, April 29, during the awards luncheon at the State Historical Society’s annual history conference in Sioux Falls [http://history.sd.gov/aboutus/historyconference/].

  • Gilder Lehrman National History Teacher of the Year (nomination deadline March 31)
    View details at http://doe.sd.gov/pressroom/zebra/news/17/Jan/documents/NHTOY.pdf

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.

Students and teacher sitting on floor writing in workbooks

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)

21st Century Community Learning Centers. Soaring Beyond Expectations. Peer reviewers needed for 21st CCLC grant applications

The Department of Education is seeking qualified individuals to become peer reviewers for 21st Century Community Learning Center grant applications. Centers provide students with academic enrichment opportunities and activities designed to complement regular school instruction.

The peer review process is used to ensure qualified proposals are selected for funding. The deadline to apply to become a peer reviewer is Jan. 27. All selected reviewers will be required to attend a training in Pierre on March 28 (or March 30, if inclement weather arises).

Individuals of diverse expertise, geographic location, gender, racial and ethnic representation are encouraged to apply. Examples of potential applicants include (but are not limited to) the following:

  • Experts in extended learning and out-of-school time practices
  • Teachers, principals
  • Youth development experts and practitioners
  • Community and youth service providers
  • Representatives of faith-based organizations
  • Private-sector individuals involved in education
  • Local and civic leaders
  • Representatives from foundations and other charitable organizations
  • College and university staff

On the Department of Education’s 21st CCLC webpage [http://doe.sd.gov/oatq/21cent.aspx], find 2017 peer reviewer documents, including a reviewer application and reviewer rubric. For more information, contact Jill Cotton [jill.cotton@state.sd.us], (605) 295-3876; or Sue Burgard [sue.burgard@state.sd.us], (605) 773-5238, with the South Dakota Department of Education.


Stock photo of students in science lab measuring test tubes. Encourage seniors to apply for National Youth Science Camp

Two South Dakota high school seniors will be chosen to attend the National Youth Science Camp, which honors academic excellence in STEM and promotes leadership through a lecture series, hands-on research, educational activities and outdoor adventures.

The application deadline is March 1.

Find more details on the National Youth Science Camp website [http://www.nysf.com/w/programs/nysc/].

Attendees get the opportunity to exchange ideas with scientists and other professionals from the academic and corporate worlds. The nearly month-long experience includes lectures and hands-on research projects presented by scientists from across the nation; overnight camping trips into the Monongahela National Forest in West Virginia; and a visit to Washington, D.C.

The NYSC experience is offered at no cost to participants, so selected delegates may attend regardless of financial status. Contributions to the National Youth Science Foundation allow delegates to participate. Educational and recreational programming, as well as meals, lodging and round-trip air travel are provided free of charge.

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

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

CTE – Standards Implementation Collaborative Work Day
Jan. 25, Sioux Falls

SD Council of Teachers of Mathematics/SD Science Teachers Association Annual Conference
Feb. 2-4, Huron [http://www.sdctm.org/]

Social studies & Oceti Sakowin: Standards & Lesson Rollouts
March 1-May 1, online

School Library EdCamp
April 8, Rapid City and Sioux Falls[http://library.sd.gov/CAL/2016/sdsl-schoollibedcamp.aspx#.WHPABmozW72]

Implementing the SD Standards and Grade-level Outcomes for K-12 Physical Education
April 20, Sioux Falls (elementary level)[http://www.doe.sd.gov/schoolhealth/documents/0417-Workshop.pdf]
April 27, Sioux Falls (secondary level) [http://www.doe.sd.gov/schoolhealth/documents/0417-Workshop.pdf]

TIE conference
April 23-25, Rapid City [https://tieconference.net/]

South Dakota State Historical Society History Conference
Laura Ingalls Wilder: A 150-Year Legacy
April 28-29, Sioux Falls [http://history.sd.gov/aboutus/historyconference/]

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