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Sept. 2020  
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Still time to fill out the 2020 Census

As I’m sure you know, the 2020 U.S. Census began this spring and will soon conclude. The Census counts every person living in the United States and five U.S. territories. It is required by the Constitution and has been held every 10 years since 1790.

I’m serving on the Governor’s 2020 Census Commission for South Dakota, and I hope you’ll consider helping spread the word via school websites, newsletters, social media channels, and more. There is still time to encourage your staff, students, and families to get counted. As the Census Bureau says, “It’s easy, it’s quick, and it’s important.”

Simply point folks to 2020census.gov where they can fill out their census form and find more information. There is also a toll-free number: 844-330-2020. Find information for phone numbers in preferred languages other than English at https://2020census.gov/en/ways-to-respond/responding-by-phone.html.

As educators, you are uniquely positioned to help ensure that several populations who are historically difficult to count don’t get overlooked: non-native English speakers, low-income households, rural residents, and children.

The Census Bureau provides a variety of outreach materials [https://2020census.gov/en/partners/outreach-materials.html], including social media graphics and posters.

And the Census’s Statistics in Schools [https://2020census.gov/en/educators.html] program provides curriculum materials for classroom use to engage students.

According to the Census website, Census data informs how hundreds of billions of dollars in federal funding are allocated to programs including Medicaid, Head Start, block grants for community mental health services, school lunches, and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).

People can still be counted until the end of September. Thank you for everything you do for South Dakota students.

Click to watch video LEADER FEATURE:
Bender offers back-to-school advice

Amanda Bender shares useful advice for staff and students navigating this school year and the COVID-19 pandemic. Bender is the president of the South Dakota School Counselor Association and the school counselor at Lead-Deadwood Elementary.

View video at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2c8msnGZfD0.

South Dakota Suicide Prevention September is Suicide Prevention Month
Governor Kristi Noem has proclaimed September as Suicide Prevention Month in South Dakota [ http://sddoe.blogspot.com/2020/09/governor-proclaims-september-is-suicide.html]. In the spirit of this recognition, view suicide prevention resources [https://sdsuicideprevention.org/professionals/school-staff/] for schools and the statewide, cross-departmental suicide prevention plan [https://sdsuicideprevention.org/toolkits/strategic-plans/], amongst other pertinent items on the South Dakota Suicide Prevention website [https://sdsuicideprevention.org/].
  • Register for Sept. 29 webinar to address suicide prevention policy

    School administrators, counselors, teachers, and board members are invited to attend one of two webinars on Model School Policy: Suicide Prevention to be held in September. The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention will provide an overview of the Model School District Policy on Suicide Prevention [https://afsp.org/model-school-policy-on-suicide-prevention].

    Choose from webinars to be held Sept. 29, at 10-11 a.m. CT and 2-3 p.m. CT. Register [https://afspsdmodelschoolpolicy.attendease.com/].

    Developed in collaboration with the American School Counselor Association, the National Association of School Psychologists and The Trevor Project, the program outlined in the model policy is research-based and easily adaptable for middle and high schools. The event is being offered as part of the South Dakota Suicide Prevention State Plan [https://sdsuicideprevention.org/toolkits/strategic-plans/]. Questions? Contact Andrea Diehm [andrea.diehm@state.sd.us] with the South Dakota Department of Education.

No-cost registration available for Community Response to Child Abuse Conference

The South Dakota Department of Education is partnering with the Center for the Prevention of Child Maltreatment to provide no-cost registration opportunities for up to two educators from each school district across the state for the Community Response to Child Abuse Conference Sept. 30-Oct. 1.

Read more at http://sddoe.blogspot.com/2020/09/no-cost-registration-available-for.html

Board adopts rules changes, begins content standards hearings, raises Praxis cut scores

The South Dakota Board of Education Standards adopted several changes to educator certification rules to allow additional flexibilities at its Sept. 21 meeting. Changes include the following:

  • Streamlining requirements for military personnel, including removal of application fee
  • Creation of inactive certificate: allows an individual to postpone normal renewal requirements until they decide to return to the profession
  • Change of renewal requirements for invalid certificate: allows someone who fails to renew on time to reinstate their certificate through normal requirements and payment of a $100 fee

“These changes for military personnel are one more way we can welcome military families to the state,” said Secretary of Education Ben Jones. “The department also expedites their certification applications and helps them through the process of becoming certified. We make every effort to ensure their professional transition is an easy one.”

The board also held the first of four public hearings on academic content standards in physical education, K-12 educational technology, foundations of career and technical education, and five CTE career clusters earlier today. These proposed standards will receive hearings at locations across the state this school year.

Content standards provide a road map for what students should know and be able to do by the end of each grade. Standards provide consistency statewide, while instructional and curriculum decisions are made at the local school district level.

According to state law, the Board of Education Standards must review academic content standards on a cyclical basis. In addition, the board is required to host four public hearings as part of the standards review process. The remaining three hearings on these standards will be held throughout the 2020-21 school year at board meetings in Sioux Falls, Pierre, and Rapid City.

The proposed standards were developed by work groups, whose members consisted of K-12 educators, postsecondary representatives and other key stakeholders. The proposed standards and links for submitting public comment can be found at http://doe.sd.gov/ContentStandards/review.aspx.

The complete South Dakota Standards Revision and Adoption Timeline is available on the South Dakota Department of Education website [https://doe.sd.gov/contentstandards/documents/StandardsTimeline.pdf].

Based on a recent review, the Department of Education recommended that cut scores for two secondary Praxis tests be raised. The decision to raise these scores is a result of a low cut score, compared to other states using this test, and a very high passage rate. The board adopted these changes:

  • World and US History: Content Knowledge – Current cut score is 135; newly adopted cut score is 146 (national average recommended cut score is 148)
  • Geography: Current cut score is 138; newly adopted cut score is 149 (national average recommended cut score is 151)

2020 Governor’s Awards

Mitchell School District and Redfield educator receive 2020 Governor’s Awards

Congratulations to the Mitchell School District’s Foodservice Department and Redfield High School teacher Karen Schmeiser! They have been presented with 2020 Governor’s Awards for making significant contributions to improving independent living and increasing employment opportunities for people with disabilities.

The Mitchell School District’s Food Service Department received the Outstanding Employer Award (Other). The Mitchell School District’s Food Service Department capitalizes on the employee’s strength, celebrates diversity, and provides a stable and supportive work environment. Employees develop work skills that include food preparation and safety, appropriate dress code, and customer service skills. Furthermore, the department promotes a diverse workforce, offering equal employment opportunities for all.

Karen Schmeiser of Aberdeen has worked for the past 12 years teaching special education at Redfield High School. Karen has assisted and mentored 100 students with disabilities as they transition from high school to the adult world; ensuring each student had a transition plan in place. For that reason, Schmeiser received the Outstanding Transition Services Award.

Governor’s Awards were also presented to the following recipients:

Outstanding Individual with a Disability Award: Kendra Gottsleben of Sioux Falls has been instrumental in promoting independent living for others with disabilities. She has made significant contributions to the community outside of her employment. She has become a state, national, and international advocate. Through her character, personality, and tenacity, Kendra received this honor.

Outstanding Employee with a Disability Award: Chris Peterson of Fort Pierre has been employed full-time with Beck Motors for 23 years. Chris exemplifies integrity, knowledge, and motivation; a work ethic that any employer desires in his or her workforce.

Outstanding Private Employer (Small Employer) Award: The Fox Stop of Yankton retains individuals with disabilities as part of their winning workforce. Under the leadership of Tracey & James Grotenhuis, every employee is recognized for who he or she is as a person, and the skills and assets he or she brings to the company.

Outstanding Private Employer (Large Employer) Award: Boyds Gunstock Industries of Mitchell has been a champion for all employees. Boyds surpassed their goal of having at least 10% of their workforce be employees with disabilities. Boyds management style has made a lasting impact on people’s lives by providing them with an opportunity to learn valuable work skills, increase their income, and experience an increased sense of accomplishment.

Distinguished Service Award: Eugene “Gene” Murphy has made it his life’s mission to help fellow veterans and individuals with disabilities. His attitude and personal example are major factors in the growth and recognition of veterans and disability-related issues in South Dakota. His involvement and empathetic care for veterans experiencing wartime injuries was and continues to be invaluable to veterans returning home.

The 2020 Governor’s Awards ceremony was co-sponsored by the Board of Vocational Rehabilitation, the Board of Service to the Blind and Visually Impaired, the Statewide Independent Living Council, and the South Dakota Department of Human Services.

Virtual Summit Oct. 7-8: How to Coach Teachers to Teach Almost Anything

The Virtual Coaching Summit was scheduled to be a two-day live event; however, instead of a cancellation due to Jill Jackson’s untimely death in August, Jackson Consulting will provide a pre-recorded Virtual Coaching Summit that will feature Jill Jackson as the facilitator teaching How to Coach Teachers to Teach Almost Anything, a simple, practical plan for knowing how to coach, what to coach, and who to coach on your staff.

When: October 7-8; 8-5 p.m. (local time for your Central/Mountain location will be provided)

Audience: Principals and instructional coaches

  • Districts involved in SPDG and SSIP grants
  • MTSS districts
  • Principal Leadership and Development Program (PLD)
  • If spots remain, the Coaching Summit will be open to other districts
Highlights of what participants will learn:
  • How to set a principal’s instructional goal
  • How to differentiate coaching time, focus, and approach based upon individual teacher needs
  • How to approach teachers for coaching without feeling awkward or evaluative
  • How to have a debriefing that results in action that sticks long-term
  • How to build real trust with teachers without wasting time building buy-in
Participant Information:
  • No registration fee
  • Registration deadline: Sept. 25
  • All participants MUST sign-up at this GoSignMeUp link [https://southdakota.gosignmeup.com/public/Course/browse?courseid=13035]
    • The registration will require a password: Jackson2020
    • Registered participants receive a web link and password each day to access pre-recorded sessions.
    • There is a maximum capacity of 100 participants for the event, so register early.
  • All participants will receive the How To Coach Teachers to Teach Almost Anything textbook.
    • Textbooks will be mailed to participants’ district location.
    • For more information on contents of the text: https://Jackson-consulting.com/coach/order

    Questions? Email Teresa Berndt [Teresa.Berndt@state.sd.us].

Submit new course code requests by Oct. 1

Districts may submit a request for a new course code to the Department of Education if a local course does not align to any of the state course descriptions. The request must include the following information: course title, course description, subject/content category, and standards addressed in the course. Approved course codes will be available for use for the following school year.

Send new course request applications to Jennifer Fowler [Jennifer.Fowler@state.sd.us], 605-280-0990. Please use this form to request a new Common Course Code [https://doe.sd.gov/contentstandards/documents/CCN-requestform.docx].

The Common Course Codes are reviewed and updated by the department on an annual basis using the following timeline:

  • Oct. 1: Deadline for districts to submit a request for a new course code to the Department of Education if a course does not align to any of the state course descriptions. If approved, the course code will be available for use for the following school year.
  • Nov. 1: The department will review the district request and communicate the final decision back to the district.
  • Dec. 1: If a new course code is identified, the new code will be added to Infinite Campus, and communication will be sent to districts.
  • August of the following year: If a new course code is identified, the new code will be added to the PRF system when the PRF system reopens for the following school year.
  • Technical assistance with Infinite Campus: Randy Hanson, 605-773-4727
  • Core Content course alignment and application: Jennifer Fowler, 605-280-0990
  • Career & Technical Education course alignment: Amy Miller, 605-280-7240
  • Personnel Record Form (PRF): Carla Leingang, 605-773-4638
  • Dual Credit: Amber Rost, 605-220-6612
Visit the Department of Education’s Common Course Numbering System webpage [https://doe.sd.gov/contentstandards/commoncourse.aspx] for the request application and more details.

Don’t miss upcoming webinars on Tools for Teachers and Gizmos

During these webinars hosted by the Department of Education’s assessment office, administrators and teachers will learn about the new formative assessment resources available to all math, ELA, and science teachers who administer the state assessments.

Tools for Teachers is an easy-to-use site featuring lessons and strategies to enhance instruction, save time in lesson planning, and boost student learning. Tools for Teachers provides a variety of resources including lessons, student performance progressions, instructional strategies, and links to interim assessment items. Tools for Teachers provides access to a suite of formative assessment and accessible instructional strategies to help teachers meet the needs of students.

Gizmos are online simulations and case studies that excite curiosity and invite interaction. With more than 400 standards-aligned simulations, students can get hands-on with science—virtually!

Webinar schedule and registration links:

Administrators: Using Tools for Teachers & Gizmos to Strengthen Instruction
Sept. 30, online [https://southdakota.gosignmeup.com/public/Course/browse?courseid=13034]

Teachers: Using Tools for Teachers & Gizmos to Strengthen Instruction
Sept. 30, online [https://southdakota.gosignmeup.com/public/Course/browse?courseid=13032]
Oct. 7, online [https://southdakota.gosignmeup.com/public/Course/browse?courseid=13033]

College Readiness Coursework available

DOE is once again offering the opportunity for high school seniors to complete College Readiness Coursework [https://sdvs.k12.sd.us/Students/CollegeReadiness.aspx]. These courses are intended to assist students who need continued support to develop the necessary skills to enroll into credit-bearing coursework after high school. Students who did not meet certain college readiness benchmarks are eligible. Questions? Contact Stephanie Higdon [stephanie.higdon@state.sd.us].

WIDA eSummit scheduled for Oct. 12-30

The WIDA eSummit is a free virtual learning opportunity for educators in WIDA Consortium states, territories, and federal agencies. The event will be held Oct. 12-30. Each week of the eSummit will have a theme with multiple webinars relating to the weekly topic.

  • The first week’s focus will be 2020 Standards with a session that introduces the WIDA ELD Standards, 2020 Edition as well as sessions about Proficiency Level Descriptors and updated Key Language Uses.
  • The theme of the second week is Teaching Multilingual Learners and will include a panel discussion with the WIDA Fellows exploring responses to COVID-19 as well as sessions focused on the intentional planning and implementation of instructional practices that support language development and content learning.
  • The final week will feature WIDA Assessments and will include webinars about the WIDA assessment system, WIDA Screener for Kindergarten and WIDA MODEL.
Find details, including access information, on this flyer [https://doe.sd.gov/pressroom/educationonline/2020/09/documents/WIDAeSummit.pdf].

Session recordings and downloadable resources will be available after the event in WIDA’s eLearning Center. Learn more on the WIDA eSummit webpage [https://wida.wisc.edu/grow/us-based-pl/wida-esummit?utm_source=CR-WW091620&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=WIDAWednesday&utm_content=text-WIDA-eSummit-2].

211 Helpline Center now available statewide

The 211 Helpline Center began offering resources and support in South Dakota in 2001 and as of July 1 is now accessible to all South Dakota residents. Through 211, the Helpline Center staff provide referrals when they are needed most, from basic human needs to disaster support and mental health resources.

Simply call 211, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and you will speak to a professionally trained support specialist. Specialists are also standing by to answer text messages if you simply text your zip code to 898211, or you can email help@helplinecenter.org. Every day people turn to 211 for information and support – whether financial, family, health, or disaster-related. The call or text is free and confidential.

Please consider distributing this half-sheet flyer promoting this valuable service to students of all ages:

  • English [https://doe.sd.gov/pressroom/educationonline/2020/09/documents/211-HelpLine.pdf]
  • Spanish [https://doe.sd.gov/pressroom/educationonline/2020/09/documents/211-HelpLine-Spanish.pdf]


Regents launch higher education task force study

The first meeting of a task force to study operations of the public university system in South Dakota will be Oct. 7-8 in Rapid City. The Senate Bill 55 Task Force takes its name from legislation passed by the 2020 South Dakota Legislature, which directed the South Dakota Board of Regents to create a task force to study the operations and functions of higher education institutions under the regents’ control.

“South Dakotans invest significant resources in its public universities and the return on citizens’ investment is in the billions of dollars,” said Brian L. Maher, the regents’ executive director and CEO. “We intend to step up and examine the system’s current operations to identify areas ripe for change.”

Maher will chair the task force, which must report its findings back to the Legislature and Gov. Kristi Noem no later than Nov. 15, 2021. A tentative agenda calls for five meetings at campus locations across the state between October 2020 and June 2021.

Named to the Senate Bill 55 Task Force are:

  • Brian L. Maher, regents’ executive director and CEO
  • Sen. Ryan Maher, Isabel; Sen. Reynold Nesiba, Sioux Falls; Rep. Hugh Bartels, Watertown; and Rep. Chris Karr, Sioux Falls; representing the Legislature’s Joint Committee on Appropriations
  • Regent Jim Thares, Aberdeen; Regent Joan Wink, Howes; and Regent Barb Stork, Dakota Dunes
  • USD President Sheila Gestring, BHSU President Laurie Nichols, and SDSU President Barry Dunn
  • Jim Neiman, Hulett, Wyo., Neiman Enterprises CEO
  • Tyler Tordsen, Sioux Falls, southeast regional director for U.S. Sen. Mike Rounds
  • Paulette Davidson, Rapid City, Monument Health CEO
  • Elsie Meeks, Pine Ridge, Lakota Funds board chair
  • Nadifa Mahamed, Sioux Falls, South Dakota State University student
  • Hal Clemensen, Aberdeen, Agtegra Cooperative Board of Directors
  • Jon Veenis, Sioux Falls, ELM Resources CEO (retired)
  • Jim Lochner, Dakota Dunes, Tyson Foods COO (retired)
  • Doug Morrison, Sioux Falls, Sioux Falls School District director of research, innovation, and accountability


Help teens drive safe and win $10,000

The South Dakota Office of Highway Safety and South Dakota Broadcasters Association are repeating the Lesson Learned giveaway to help keep students safe. This year, it’s easier than ever for teens to enter. They just need to watch a video that tests their focus at LessonLearnedSD.com and fill out a form. Just two steps could win them $10,000, plus $10,000 for a school-sponsored club or activity of their choice.

But don’t wait to spread the word – the contest runs through Sept. 30.

The more students from your school who enter, the better chance you have of securing $10,000. To help encourage teens to participate, here is a printable poster [https://doe.sd.gov/pressroom/educationonline/2020/09/documents/LessonLearned.pdf].

Last year’s winner, Angie Lockett, scored $10,000, plus another $10,000 for the band and theatre programs at Platte-Geddes High School.

Upcoming Events

Except where otherwise noted, details on the following events are available at GoSignMeUp[http://southdakota.gosignmeup.com/].

Please note: Due to the fluid nature of COVID-19 concerns, face-to-face meetings are subject to cancelation, postponement, or shifting to an online platform. Confirm with event organizers before making plans to attend.

Webinar for SD educators: Model School Policy on Suicide Prevention
Sept. 29, 10 a.m. CT or 2 p.m. CT

Administrators: Using Tools for Teachers & Gizmos to Strengthen Instruction
Sept. 30, online

Community Response to Child Abuse Conference
Sept. 30-Oct. 1, online

Northern Plains Law Conference
Oct. 5-6, online

DOE/SDSLHA Workshop: Multiple Pathways to Literacy Difficulties: A Longitudinal Perspective
Oct. 9, online

South Dakota Advisory Panel on Children with Disabilities
Oct. 20

Board of Education Standards
Nov. 16, Sioux Falls


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